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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by 


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the Eastern 
District of Pennsylvania. 




Introduction «^ 6 


The Nature op Civil Liberty 9 

Sect. I. — The commonly-received definition of Civil Li- 
berty..., 12 

Sect. II. — Examination of the commonly-received defini- 
tion of Civil Liberty 13 

Sect. III. — No good law ever limits or abridges the Na- 
tural Liberty of Mankind 22 

Sect. IV. — The Distinction betvreen Rights and Liberty. . 28 

Sect. V. — The Relation between the State of Nature and 

Civil Society 30 

Sect. VI. — Inherent and Inalienable Rights 34 

Sect. VII. — Conclusion of the First Chapter 39 


The Arguments and Positions of Abolitionists..... 43 

Sect. I. — The first fallacy of the Abolitionist 45 

Sect. II. — The second fallacy of the AboUtionist 50 

Sect. III.— The third fallacy of the Abolitionist 52 

Sect. IV. — The fourth fallacy of the Abolitionist 55 

Sect. V.— The fifth fallacy of the Abolitionist 58 

Sect. VI.— The sixth fallacy of the Abolitionist 62 

Sect. VII. — The seventh fallacy of the Abolitionist 65 

Sect. VIIL— The eighth fallacy of the Abolitionist 79 

Sect. IX. — The ninth fallacy of the Abolitionist 82 




Sect. X. — The tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, four- 
teenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth fallacies of the Aboli- 
tionist ; or his seven arguments against the right of a 
man to hold property in his fellow-man 86 

Sect. XI. — The seventeenth fallacy of the Abolitionist; 
or, the Argument from the Declaration of Independence 102 


The Argument from the Scriptures 138 

Sect. I. — The Argument from the Old Testament 138 

Sect. II. — The Argument from the New Testament 157 


The Argument from the Public Good 226 

Sect. I.— The Question 227 

Sect. II. — Emancipation in the British Colonies 229 

Sect. III. — The manner in which Emancipation has 

ruined the British Colonies 257 

Sect. IV. — The great benefit supposed, by American 
Abolitionists, to result to the freed Negroes from the 

British Act of Emancipation 268 

Sect. V. — The Consequences of Abolition to the South. . 284 
Sect. VI. — Elevation of the Blacks by Southern Slavery. 292 


The Fugitive Slave Law 301 

Sect. I. — Mr. Seward's Attack on the Constitution of his 
Country 302 

Sect. II. — The Attack of Mr. Sumner on the Constitu- 
tion of his Country 311 

Sect. III. — The Right of Trial by Jury not impaired by 
the Fugitive Slave Law 353 

Sect. IV. — The Duty of the Citizen in regard to the 
Constitution of the United States 374 


This work has, for the most part, been thought 
out for several years, and various portions of it re- 
duced to writing. Though we have long cherished the 
design of preparing it for the press, yet other engage- 
ments, conspiring with a spirit of procrastination, have 
hitherto induced us to defer the execution of this de- 
sign. Nor should we have prosecuted it, as we have 
done, during a large portion of our last summer vaca- 
tion, and the leisure moments of the first two months of 
the present session of the University, but for the solici- 
tation of two intelligent and highly-esteemed friends. 
In submitting the work, as it now is, to the judg- 
ment of the truth-loving and impartial reader, we 
beg leave to offer one or two preliminary re- 

We have deemed it wise and proper to notice 
only the more decent, respectable, and celebrated 
among the Abolitionists of the North. Those scur- 

1* 6 


rilous writers, who deal in wholesale abuse of South- 
ern character, we have deemed unworthy of notice. 
Their writings are, no doubt, adapted to the taste of 
their readers; but as it is certain that no educated 
gentleman will tolerate them, so we would not raise a 
finger to promote their downfall, nor to arrest their 
course toward the oblivion which so inevitably awaits 

In replying to the others, we are conscious that 
we have often used strong language; for which, how- 
ever, we have no apology to offer. We haVe dealt 
with their arguments and positions rather than with 
their motives and characters. If, in pursuing this 
course, we have often spoken strongly, we merely beg 
the reader to consider whether we have not also 
spoken justly. We have certainly not spoken without 
provocation. For even these men — the very lights 
and ornaments of abolitionism — have seldom conde- 
scended to argue the great question of Liberty and 
Slavery with us as with equals. On the contrary, 
they habitually address us as if nothing but a pur- 
blind ignorance of the very first elements of moral 
science could shield our minds against the force of 
their irresistible arguments. In the overflowing ex- 
uberance of their philanthropy, they take pity of our 
most lamentable moral darkness, and graciously con- 
descend to teach us the very A B C of ethical 
philosophy ! Hence, if we hwve deemed it a duty to 


lay bare their pompous inanities, stowing them to be 
no oracles, and to strip their pitiful sophisms of the 
guise of a profound philosophy, we trust that no 
impartial reader will take offence at such vindication 
of the South against her accusers and despisers. 

In this vindication, we have been careful throughout 
to distinguish between the abolitionists, our accusers, 
and the great body of the people of the North. 
Against these we have said nothing, and we could 
say nothing; since for these we entertain the most 
profound respect. We have only assailed those by 
whom we have been assailed; and we have held each 
and every man responsible only for what he himself 
has said and done. We should, indeed, despise our- 
selves if we could be guilty of the monstrous injus- 
tice of denouncing a whole people on account of 
the sayings and doings of a portion of them. We 
had infinitely rather suffer such injustice — as we 
have so long done — than practise it toward others. 

We cannot flatter ourselves, of course, that the fol- 
lowing work is without errors. But these, whatever 
else may be thought of them, are not the errors of 
haste and inconsideration. For if we have felt deeply 
on the subject here discussed, we have also thought 
long, and patiently endeavored to guard our minds 
against fallacy. How far this effort has proved suc- 
cessful, it is the province of the candid and impartial 
reader alone to decide. If our arguments- and views 


are unsound, we hope he will reject them. On the 
contrary, if they are correct and well-grounded, we 
hope he will concur with us in the conclusion, that 
the institution of slavery, as it exists among us at 
the South, is founded in political justice, is in accord- 
ance with the will of God and the designs of his 
providence, and is conducive to the highest, purest, best 
interests of mankind. 




Few subjects, if any, more forcibly demand 
our attention, by tbeir intrinsic grandeur and 
importance, tban the great doctrine of human 
liberty. Correct views concerning this are, in- 
deed, so intimately connected with the most 
profound interests, as well as with the most 
exalted aspirations, of the human race, that any 
material departure therefrom must be fraught 
with evil to the living, as well as to millions yet 
unborn. They are so inseparably interwoven 
with all that is great and good and glorious in 
the destiny of man, that whosoever aims to form 
or to propagate such views should proceed with 
the utmost care, and, laying aside all prejudice 
and passion, be guided by the voice of reason 


Hence it is to be regretted — deeply regretted — 
that the doctrine of liberty has so often been 
discussed with so little apparent care, with so 
little moral earnestness, with so little real ener- 
getic searching and longing after truth. Though 
its transcendent importance demands the best 
exertion of all our powers, yet has it been, for 
the most part, a theme for passionate declamation, 
rather than of severe analysis or of protracted 
and patient investigation. In the warm praises 
of the philosopher, no less than in the glowing 
inspirations of the poet, it often stands before us 
as a vague and ill-defined something which all 
men are required to worship, but which no man 
is bound to understand. It would seem, indeed, 
as if it were a mighty something not to be clearly 
seen, but only to be deeply felt. And felt it has 
been, too, by the ignorant as well as by the 
learned, by the simple as well as by the wise : 
felt as a fire in the blood, as a fever in the brain, 
and as a phantom in the imagination, rather, 
than as a form of light and beauty in the intelli- 
gence. How often have the powers of darkness 
surrounded its throne, and desolation marked 
its path ! How often from the altars of this 
unknown idol has the blood of human victims 
streamed! Even here, in this glorious land of 


ours, liow often do the too-religious Americans 
seem to become deaf to the most appalling les- 
sons of the past, while engaged in the frantic 
worship of this their tutelary deity! At this 
very moment, the highly-favored land in which 
we live is convulsed from its centre to its cir- 
cumference by the agitations of these pious 
devotees of freedom ; and how long ere scenes 
like those which called forth the celebrated 
exclamation of Madame Roland — " Liberty, 
what crimes are perpetrated in thy name !" 
may be enacted among us, it is not possible for 
human sagacity or foresight to determine. 

K no one would talk about liberty except 
those who had taken the pains to understand 
it, then would a perfect calm be restored, and 
peace once more bless a happy people. But 
there are so many who imagine they understand 
liberty as Falstafl" knew the true prince, namely, 
by instinct, that all hope of such a consummation 
must be deferred until it may be shown that 
their instinct is a blind guide, and its oracles are 
false. Hence the necessity of a close study and 
of a clear analysis of the nature and conditions 
of civil liberty, in order to a distinct delineation 
of the great idol, which all men are so ready to 
worship, but which so few are willing to take 


the pains to understand. In the prosecution of 
such an inquiry, we intend to consult neither the 
pecuniary interests of the South nor the preju- 
dices of the ITorth ; but calmly and immovably 
proceed to discuss, upon purely scientific princi- 
ples, this great problem of our social existence 
and national prosperity, upon the solution of 
which the hopes and destinies of mankind in no 
inconsiderable measure depend. We intend no 
appeal to passion or to sordid interest, but only 
to the reason of the wise and good. And if 
justice, or mercy, or truth, be found at war with 
the institution of slavery, then, in the name of 
God, let slavery perish. But however guilty, 
still let it be tried, condemned, and executed 
according to law, and not extinguished by a 
despotic and lawless power more terrific than 

§ I. The commonly-received definition of civil 

"Civil liberty," says Blackstone, "is no other 
than natural liberty so far restrained as is neces- 
sary and expedient for the general advantage." 
This definition seems to have been borrowed 
from Locke, who says that, when a man enters 
into civil society, " he is to pai-t with so much 


of his natural liberty^ in providing for himself, as 
the good, prosperity, and safety of the society 
shall require." So, likewise, say Paley, Berla- 
maqui, Rutherforth, and a host of others. In- 
deed, among jurists and philosophers, such 
seems to be the commonly-received definition 
of civil liberty. It seems to have become a 
political maxim that civil liberty is no other 
than a certain portion of our natural liberty, 
which has been carved therefrom, and secured 
to us by the protection of the laws. 

But is this a sound maxim? Has it been 
deduced from the nature of things, or is it 
merely a plausible show of words ? Is it truth— 
sohd and imperishable truth — or merely one of 
those fair semblances of truth, which, through 
the too hasty sanction of great names, have ob- 
tained a currency among men? The question 
is not what Blackstone, or Locke, or Paley may 
have thought, but what is truth? Let us ex- 
amine this point, then, in order that our decision 
may be founded, not upon the authority of man, 
but, if possible, in the wisdom of God. 

§ n. Examination of the commonly-received 
definition of civil liberty. 

Before we can determine whether such be the 


origin of civil liberty, we must first ascertain 
the character of that natural liberty out of which 
it is supposed to be reserved. "What, then, is 
natural liberty? What is the nature of the 
material out of which our civil liberty is sup- 
posed to be fashioned by the art of the political 
sculptor ? It is thus defined by Locke : " To 
understand political power right, and derive it 
from its original, we must consider what state 
all men are naturally in ; and that is a state of 
perfect freedom to order their actions and dis- 
pose of their possessions and persons as they 
think fit, within the hounds of the law of nature, 
without asking leave or depending upon the 
will of any other man."** In perfect accordance 
with this definition, Blackstone says : *' This 
natural liberty consists in a power of acting as 
one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, 
unless by the laws of nature, being a right in- 
herent in us by birth, and one of the gifts of God 
to man at his creation, when he endowed him 
with the faculty of free-will." Such, according 
to Locke and Blackstone, is that natural liberty, 
which is limited and abridged, as they suppose, 
when we enter into the bonds of civil society. 

* Locke on Civil Government, chap. ii. 


ISTow mark its features : it is the gift of God to 
man at his creation ; the very top and flower 
of his existence ; that by which he is distin- 
guished from the lower animals and raised to 
the rank of moral and accountable beings. Shall 
we sacrifice this divine gift, then, in order to 
secure the blessings of civil society ? Shall we 
abridge or mutilate the image of God, stamped 
upon the soul at its creation, by which we are 
capable of knowing and obeying his law, in 
order to secure the aid and protection of man ? 
Shall we barter away any portion of this our 
glorious birthright for any poor boon of man's 
devising? Yes, we are told — and why? Be- 
cause, says Blackstone, " Legal obedience and 
conformity is infinitely more valuable than the 
wild and savage liberty which is sacrificed to 
obtain it.'' 

But how is this ? Now this natural liberty is 
a thing of light, and now it is a power of dark- 
ness, ^ow it is the gift of God, that moves 
within a sphere of light, and breathes an atmo- 
sphere of love ; and anon, it is a wild and savage 
thing that carries terror in its train. It would 
be an angel of light, if it were not a power of 
darkness ; and it would be a power of darkness, 
if it were not an angel of light. But as it is, it 


is both by turns, and neither long, but runs 
through its Protean changes, according to the 
exigencies of the floT\dng discourse of the learned 
author. Surely such inconsistency, so glaring 
and so portentous, and all exhibited on one 
and the same page, is no evidence that the 
genius of the great commentator was as steady 
and profound as it was elegant and classical. 

The source of this vacillation is obvious. 
With Locke, he defines natural liberty to be a 
power of acting as one thinks fit, within the limits 
jprescrihed hy the law of nature ; but he soon loses 
sight of this all-important limitation, from which 
natural liberty derives its form and beauty. 
Hence it becomes in his mind a power to act as 
one pleases, without the restraint or control of 
any law whatever, either human or divine. The 
sovereign will and pleasure of the individual be- 
comes the only rule of conduct, and lawless 
anarchy the condition which it legitimates. 
Thus, having loosed the bonds and marred the 
beauty of natural liberty, he was prepared to see 
it, now become so '^wild and savage," offered 
up as a sacrifice on the altar of civil liberty. 

This, too, was the great fundamental error of 
Hobbes. What Blackstone thus did through 
inadvertency, was knowingly and designedly 


done by tlie pWlosoplier of Malmesbury. In a 
state of nature, says he, all men liave a right to 
do as they please. Each individual may set up 
a right to all things, and consequently to the 
same things. In other v^ords, in such a state 
there is no law, except that of force. The 
strong arm of power is the supreme arbiter of 
all things. Robbery and outrage and murder 
are as lawful as their opposites. That is to say, 
there is no such thing as a law of nature ; and 
consequently all things are, in a state of nature, 
equally allowable. Thus it was that Hobbes 
delighted to legitimate the horrors of a state of 
nature, as it is called, in order that mankind 
might, without a feeling of indignation or regret, 
see the wild and ferocious liberty of such a state 
sacrificed to despotic power. Thus it was that 
he endeavoured to recommend the " Leviathan," 
by contrasting it with the huger monster called 
ITatural Liberty. 

This view of the state of nature, by which all 
law and the great Fountain of all law are shut 
out of the world, was perfectly agreeable to 
the atheistical philosophy of Hobbes. From one 
who had extinguished the light of nature, and 
given dominion to the powers of darkness, no 
better could have been expected; but is it not 

B 2* 


deplorable that a Christian jurist should, 6veii 
for a moment, have forgotten the great central 
light of his own system, and drawn his argu- 
ments from such an abyss of darkness ? 

Blackstone has thus lost sight of truth, not 
only in regard to his general propositions, but 
also in regard to particular instances. " The 
law," says he, "which restrains a man from 
doing mischief to Ins fellow-citizens diminishes 
the natural liberty of mankind." I^ow, is this 
true ? The doing of mischief is contrary to the 
law of nature, and hence, according to the 
definition of Blackstone himself, the perpetration 
of it is not an exercise of any natural right. 
As no man possesses a natural right to do mis- 
chief, so the law which forbids it does not 
diminish the natural liberty of mankind. The 
law which forbids mischief is a restraint not 
upon the natural liberty^ but upon the natural 
tyranny^ of man. 

Blackstone is by no means alone in the error 
to which we have alluded. By one of the clear- 
est thinkers and most beautiful writers of the 
present age,* it is argued, "that as government 
implies restraint, it is evident we give up a cer- 

* Robert Hall. 


tain portion of our liberty by entering into it." 
This argument would be valid, no doubt, if 
there were nothing in the world beside liberty 
to be restrained; but the evil passions of men, 
from which proceed so many frightful tyrannies 
and wrongs, are not to be identified with their 
rights or liberties. As government implies 
restraint, it is evident that something is re- 
strained when we enter into it ; but it does not 
follow that this something must be our natural 
liberty. The argument in question proceeds 
on the notion that government caii restrain 
nothing, unless it restrain the natural liberty of 
mankind ; whereas, we have seen, the law which 
forbids the perpetration of mischief, or any other 
wrong, is a restriction, not upon the liberty, but 
upon the tyranny, of the human will. It sets a 
bound and limit, not to any right conferred on 
us by the Author of nature, but upon the evil 
thoughts and deeds of which we are the sole 
and exclusive originators. Such a law, indeed, 
so far from restraining the natural liberty of 
man, recognises his natural rights, and secures 
his freedom, by protecting the weak against the 
injustice and oppression of the strong. 

The way in which these authors show that 
natural liberty is, and of right ought to be, 


abridged by the laws of society, is, by identify- 
ing this natural freedom, not with a power to act 
as God wills, but with a power in conformity 
with our own sovereign will and pleasure. The 
same thing is expressly done by Paley.* "To 
do what we will," says he, "is natural liberty." 
Starting from this definition, it is no wonder 
that he should have supposed that natural liberty 
is restrained by civil government. In like man- 
ner, Burke first says, " That the effect of liberty 
to individuals is, that they may do what they 
please;'' and then concludes, that in order to 
"secure some liberty," we make "a surrender 
in trust of the whole of it."t Thus the natural 
rights of mankind are first caricatured, and then 

If there be no God, if there be no difference 
between right and wrong, if there be no moral 
law in the universe, then indeed would men 
possess a natural right to do mischief or to act 
as they please. Then indeed should we be fet- 
tered by no law in a state of nature, and liberty 
therein would be coextensive with power. 
Right would give place to might, and the least 

* Political Phil., chap, v. 

f Reflections on the Revolution in France. 


restraint, even from ttie best laws, would im- 
pair our natural freedom. But we subscribe to 
no such philosopbj. That learned authors, that 
distinguished jurists, that celebrated philosophers, 
that pious divines, should thus deliberately in- 
clude the enjoyment of our natural rights and 
the indulgence of our evil passions in one and 
the same definition of liberty, is, it seems to us, 
matter of the most profound astonishment and 
regret. It is to confound the source of all ty- 
ranny with the fountain of all freedom. It is to 
put darkness for light, and light for darkness. 
And it is to inflame the minds of men with the 
idea that they are struggling and contending 
for liberty, when, in reality, they may be only 
struggling and contending for the gratification 
of their malignant passions. Such an offence 
against all clear thinking, such an outrage 
against all sound political ethics, becomes the 
more amazing when we reflect on the greatness 
of the authors by whom it is committed, -and 
the stupendous magnitude of the interests in- 
volved in their discussions. 

Should we, then, exhibit the fundamental law 
of society, and the natural liberty of mankind, 
as antagonistic principles ? Is not this the way 
to prepare the human mind, at all times so pas- 


sionately, not to say so madly, fond of freedom, 
for a repetition- of those tremendous conflicts 
and struggles beneath which, the foundations of 
society have so often trembled, and some of its 
best institutions been laid in the dust? In one 
word, is it not high time to raise the inquiry, 
Wliether there be, in reality, any such opposition 
as is usually supposed to exist between the law 
of the land and the natural rights of mankind ? 
Whether such opposition be real or imaginary ? 
Whether it exists in the nature of things, or 
only in the imagination of political theorists ? 

§ m. No good law ever limits or abridges the 
natural liberty of manhind. 

By the two great leaders of opposite schools, 
Locke and Burke, it is contended that when we 
enter into society the natural right of self-de- 
fence is surrendered to the government. If any 
natural right, then, be limited or abridged by 
the laws of society, we may suppose the right 
of self-defence to be so ; for this is the instance 
which is always selected to illustrate and confirm 
the reality of such a surrender of our natural 
liberty. It has, indeed, become a sort of maxim, 
that when we put on the bonds of civil society, 
we give up the natural right of self-defence. 


But what does this maxim mean? Does it 
iwean that we transfer the right to repel force by 
force? If so, the proposition is not true; for 
this right is as fully possessed by every indivi- 
dual after he has entered into society as it could 
have been in a state of nature. If he is assailed, 
or threatened with immediate personal danger, 
the law of the land does not require him to wait 
upon the strong but slow arm of government for 
protection. On the contrary, it permits him to 
protect himself, to repel force by force, in so far 
as this may be necessary to guard against injury 
to himself; and the law of nature allows no 
more. Indeed, if there be any difference, the 
law of the land allows a man to go farther m 
the defence of self than he is permitted to go 
by the law of God. Hence, in this sense, the 
maxim under consideration is not true ; and no 
man's natural liberty is abridged by the State. 

Does this maxim mean, then, that in a state 
of nature every man has a right to redress his 
own wrongs by the subsequent punishment of the 
offender, which right the citizen has transferred 
to the government? It is clear that this must 
be the meaning, if it have any correct meaning 
at all. But neither in this sense is the maxim 
or proposition true. The right to punish an 


offender must rest upon tlie one or the other 
of two grounds: either upon the ground that 
the offender deserves punishment, or that his 
punishment is necessary to prevent similar of- 
fences. N"ow, upon neither of these grounds 
has any man, even in a state of nature, the 
right to punish an offence committed against 

First, he has no right to punish such an 
offence on the ground that it deserves punish- 
ment. 'No man has, or ever had, the right to 
wield the awful attribute of retributive justice; 
that is, to inflict so much pain for so much guilt 
or moral turpitude. This is the prerogative of 
God alone. To his eye, all secrets are known, 
and all degrees of guilt perfectly apparent ; and 
to him alone belongs the vengeance which is 
due for moral ill-desert. His law extends over 
the state of nature as well as over the state of 
civil society, and calls all men to account for 
their evil deeds. It is evident that, in so far as 
the intrinsic demerit of actions is concerned, it 
makes no difference whether they be punished 
here or hereafter. And besides, if the indi- 
vidual had possessed such a right in a state 
of nature, he has not transferred it to so- 
ciety; for society neither has nor claims any 


such right. Blackstone but utters the voice of 
the law when he says : *' The end or final cause 
of human punishment is not by way of atone- 
ment or expiation, for that must be left to the 
just determination of the supreme Being, but 
as a precaution against future offences of the 
same kind." The exercise of retributive justice 
belongs exclusively to the infallible Ruler of the 
world, and not to frail, erring man, who himself 
so greatly stands in need of mercy. Hence, the 
right to punish a transgressor on the ground 
that such punishment is deserved, has not been 
transferred from the individual to civil society: 
first, because he had no such natural right to 
transfer ; and, secondly, because society possesses 
no such right. 

In the second place, if we consider the other 
ground of punishment, it will likewise appear 
that the right to punish never belonged to the 
individual, and consequently could not have 
been transferred by him to society. For, by the 
law of nature, the individual has no right to 
punish an offence against himself in order to 
prevent future offences of the same hind. If the 
object of human punishment be, as indeed it is, 
to prevent the commission of crime, by holding 
up examples of terror to evil-doers, then it U 


evidently no more the natural right of the party 
injured to redress the wrong, than it is the 
risrht of others. All men are interested in the 
prevention of wrongs, and hence all men should 
unite to redress them. All men are endowed 
by their Creator with a sense of justice, in 
order to impel them to secure its claims, and 
throw the shield of its protection around the 
weak and oppressed. 

The prevention of wrong, then, is clearly the 
natural duty, and consequently the natural 
right, of all men. 

This duty should be discharged by others, 
rather than by the party aggrieved. For it is 
contrary to the law of nature itself, as both 
Locke and Burke agree, that any man should 
be "judge in his own case ;" that any man 
should, by an ex post facto decision, determine 
the amount of punishment due to his enemy, 
and proceed to inflict it upon him. Such a 
course, indeed, so far from preventing offences, 
would inevitably promote them; instead of re- 
dressing injuries, would only add wrong to 
vn'ong ; and instead of introducing order, would 
only make confusion worse confounded, and 
turn the moral world quite upside down. 

On no ground, then, upon which the right to 


puiiish may be conceived to rest, does it appear 
that it was ever possessed, or could ever have 
been possessed, by the individual. And if the 
individual never possessed such a right, it is 
clear that he has never transferred it to society. 
Hence, this view of the origin of government, 
however plausible at first sight, or however 
generally received, has no real foundation in 
the nature of things. It is purely a creature 
of the imagination of theorists; one of the 
phantoms of that manifold, monstrous, phantom 
deity called Liberty, which has been so often 
invoked by the pseudo philanthropists and reck- 
less reformers of the present day to subvert not 
only the law of capital punishment, but also 
other institutions and laws which have received 
the sanction of both God and man. 

The simple truth is, that we are all bound by 
the law of nature and the law of God to love 
our neighbor as ourselves. Hence it is the 
duty of every man, in a state of nature, to do 
all in his power to protect the rights and pro- 
mote the interests of his fellow-men. It is the 
duty of all men to consult together, and con- 
cert measures for the general good. Right 
here it is, then, that the law of man, the con- 
stitution of civil society, comes into contact 


with the law of God and rests upon it. Thus, 
civil society arises, not from a surrender of 
individual rights, but from a right originally- 
possessed by all; nay, from a solemn duty 
originally imposed upon all by God himself — a 
duty which must be performed, whether the 
individual gives his consent or not. The very 
law of nature itself requires, as we have seen, 
not only the punishment of the offender, but 
also that he be punished according to a pre- 
established law, and by the decision of an im- 
partial tribunal. And in the enactment of such 
law, as well as in the administration, the col- 
lective wisdom of society, or its agents, moves 
in obedience to the law of God, and not in 
pursuance of rights derived from the individual. 

§ TV. The distinction between rights and liberty. 
In the foregoing discussion we have, in con- 
formity to the custom of others, used the terms 
rights and liberty as words of precisely the same 
import. But, instead of being convertible terms, 
there seems to be a very clear difference in their 
signification. If a man be taken, for example, 
and without cause thrown into prison, this de- 
prives him of his liberty, but not of his right, 
to go where he pleases. The right still exists; 


and liis not being allowed to enjoy this right, is 
precisely what constitutes the oppression in the 
case supposed. If there were no right still sub- 
sisting, then there would be no oppression. 
Hence, as the right exists, while the liberty is 
extinguished, it is evident they are distinct from 
each other. The liberty of a man in such a 
case, as in all others, would consist in an 
opportunity to enjoy his right, or in a state in 
which it might be enjoyed if he so pleased. 

This distinction between rights and liberty 
is all-important to a clear and satisfactory dis- 
cussion of the doctrine of human freedom. 
The great champions of that freedom, from a 
Locke down to a Hall, firmly and passionately 
grasping the natural rights of man, and con- 
founding these with his liberty, have looked 
upon society as the restrainer, and not as the 
author, of that liberty. On the other hand, the 
great advocates of despotic power, from a Hobbes 
down to a Whewell, seeing that there can be 
no genuine liberty — that is, no secure enjoyment 
of one's rights — in a state of nature, have 
ascribed, not only our liberty, but all our ex- 
isting rights also, to the State. 

But the error of Locke is a noble and gene- 
rous sentiment when compared "svith the odious 



dogma of Hobbes and Whewell. These learned 
authors contend that we derive all our existing 
rights from society. Do we, then, live and 
move and breathe and think and worship God 
only by rights derived from the State? !N"o, 
certainly. We have these rights from a higher 
source. God gave them, and all the powers of 
earth combined cannot take them away. But 
as for our liberty, this we freely own is, for the 
most part, due to the sacred bonds of civil 
society. Let us render unto Caesar the things 
that are Caesar's, and unto God the things that 
are God's. 

§ V. The relation between the state of nature 
and of civil society. 

Herein, then, consists the true relation be- 
tween the natural and the social states. Civil 
society does not abridge our natural rights, but 
secures and protects them. She does not as- 
sume our right of self-defence, — she simply dis- 
charges the duty imposed by God to defend us. 
The original right is in those who compose the 
body politic, and not in any individual. Hence, 
civil society does not impair our natural liberty, 
as actually existing in a state of nature, or as 
it mio'ht therein exist; for, in such a stata. 


there would be no real liberty, no real enjoy- 
ment of natural rights. 

Mr. Locke, as we have seen, defines the state 
of nature to be one of "perfect freedom." Wliy 
then should we leave it? "If man, in the state 
of nature, be so free," says he, "why will he 
part with his freedom ? To which it is obvious 
to answer," he continues, " that though, in the 
state of nature, he hath such a right, yet the 
enjoyment of it is very uncertain^ and constantly 
exposed to the invasion of others ; for all being 
kings as much as he, every man his equal, and 
the greater part not strict observers of equity 
and justice, the enjoyment of the property he 
has in this state is very unsafe, very insecure. 
This makes him willing to quit a condition 
which, however free, is full of fears and continual 
dangers; and it is not without reason that he 
seeks out, and is willing to join in society with, 
others who are already united, or have a mind 
to unite, /or the mutual preservation of their lives, 
liberties, and estates, which I call by the general 
name property,''^ What! can that be a state 
of perfect freedom which is subject to fears 
and perpetual dangers? In one word, can a 

* Locke on Ciyil Goverument, chap, ix. 


reign of terror be the reign of liberty ? It is 
evident, we think, that Locke has been betrayed 
into no little inaccuracy and confusion of 
thought from not having distinguished between 
rights and liberty. 

The truth seems to be that, in a state of 
nature, we would possess rights, but we could 
not enjoy them. That is to say, notwithstanding 
all our rights, we should be destitute of free- 
dom or liberty. Society interposes the strong 
arm of the law to protect our rights, to secure 
us in the enjoyment of them. She delivers us 
from the alarms, the dangers, and the violence 
of the natural state. Hence, under God, she 
is the mother of our peace and joy, by whose 
sovereign rule anarchy is abolished and liberty 
established. Liberty and social law can never 
be dissevered. Liberty, robed in law, and 
radiant with love, is one of the best gifts of 
God to man. But liberty, despoiled of law, is 
a wild, dark, fierce spirit of licentiousness, 
which tends "to uproar the universal peace." 

Hence it is a frightful error to regard the 
civil state or government as antagonistic to the 
natural liberty of mankind ; for this is, indeed, 
the author of the very liberty we enjoy. Good 
government it is that restrains the elements of 


tyranny and oppression, and introduces liberty 
into tlie world. Good government it is that 
shuts out the reign of anarchy, and secures 
the dominion of equity and goodness. He who 
would spurn the restraints of law, then, by 
which pride, and envy, and hatred, and malice, 
ambition, and revenge, are kept within the 
sacred bounds of eternal justice — he, we say, 
is not the friend of human liberty. He would 
open the flood-gates of tyranny and oppression ; 
he would mar the harmony and extinguish 
the light of the world. Let no such man be 

If the foregoing remarks be just, it would 
follow that the state of nature, as it is called, 
would be one of the most unnatural states in 
the world. "We may conceive it to exist, for 
the sake of illustration or argument; but if it 
should actually exist, it would be at war with 
the law of nature itself. For this requires, as 
we have seen, that men should unite together, 
and frame such laws as the general good de- 

Not only the law, but the very necessities of 
nature, enjoin the institution of civil govern- 
ment. God himself has thus laid the founda- 
tions of civil society deep in the nature of man. 



It is an ordinance of heaven, which no human 
decree can reverse or annul. It is not a thing 
of compacts, bound together by promises and 
paper, but is itself a law of nature as irreversible 
as any other. Compacts may give it one form 
or another, but in one form or another it must 
exist. It is no accidental or artificial thing, 
which may be made or unmade, which may be 
set up or pulled down, at the mere will and 
pleasure of man. It is a decree of God; the 
spontaneous and irresistible working of that 
nature, which, in all climates, through all ages, 
and under all circumstances, manifests itself in 
social organizations. 

§ YI. Inherent and inalienable rights. 

Much has been said about inherent and in- 
alienable rights, which is either unintelligible or 
rests upon no solid foundation. "The inalien- 
able rights of men" is a phrase often brandished 
by certain reformers, who aim to bring about 
"the immediate abolition of slavery." Yet, in 
the light of the foregoing discussion, it may be 
clearly shown that the doctrine of inalienable 
rights, if properly handled, will not touch the 
institution of slavery. 

An inalienable right is either one which the 


possessor of it himself cannot alienate or trans- 
fer, or it is one which society has not the power 
to take from him. According to the import 
of the terms, the first would' seem to be what 
is meant by an inalienable right; but in this 
sense it is not pretended that the right to either 
life or liberty has been transferred to society 
or alienated by the individual. And if, as we 
have endeavored to show, the right, or power, 
or authority of society is not derived from a 
transfer of individual rights, then it is clear 
that neither the right to life nor liberty is trans- 
ferred to society. That is, if no rights are trans- 
ferred, than these particular rights are still un- 
transferred, and, if you please, untransferable. 
Be it conceded, then, that the individual has 
never transferred his right to life or liberty to 

But it is not in the above sense that the 
abolitionist uses the expression, inalienable rights. 
According to his view, an inalienable right is 
one of which society itself cannot, without do- 
ing wrong, deprive the individual, or deny the 
enjoyment of it to him. This is evidently his 
meaning; for he complains of the injustice of 
society, or civil government, in depriving a cer- 
tain portion of its subjects of civil freedom, and 

;"# "m 


consigning them to a state of servitude. " Such 
an act," says he, "is wrong, because it is a vio- 
lation of the inalienable rights of all men." But 
let us see if his complaint be just or well 

It is pretended by no one that society has the 
right to deprive any subject of either life or 
liberty, without good and sufficient cause or reason. 
On the contrary, it is on all hands agreed that 
it is only for good and sufficient reasons that 
society can deprive any portion of its subjects 
of either life or liberty. !N"or can it be denied, 
on the other side, that a man may be deprived 
of either, or both, by a preordained law, in case 
there be a good and sufficient reason for the 
enactment of such law. For the crime of mur- 
der, the law of the land deprives the criminal 
of life : a fortiori^ might it deprive him of liberty. 
In the infliction of such a penalty, the law seeks, 
as we have seen, not to deal out so much pain 
for so much guilt, nor even to deal out pain for 
guilt at all, but simply to protect the members 
of society, and secure the general good. The 
general good is the sole and sufficient considera- 
tion which justifies the state in taking either 
the life or the liberty of its subjects. 

Hence, if we would determine in any case 


whether society is justified in depriving any of 
its members of civil freedom by law, we must 
first ascertain whether the general good de- 
mands the enactment of such a law. If it does, 
then such a law is just and good— as perfectly 
just and good as any other law which, for the 
same reason or on the same ground, takes away 
the life or liberty of its subjects. .All this talk 
about the inalienable rights of men may have a 
very admirable meaning, if one will only be at 
the pains to search it out ; but is it not evident 
that, when searched to the bottom, it has just 
nothing at all to do with the great question of 
slavery? But more of this hereafter.* 

This great problem, as we have seen, is to be 
decided, not by an appeal to the inalienable 
rights of men, but simply and solely by a re- 
ference to the general good. It is to be decided, 
not by the aid of abstractions alone; a little 
good sense and practical sagacity should be al- 
lowed to assist in its determination. There are 
inalienable rights, we admit — inalienable both 
because the individual cannot transfer them, 
and because society can never rightfully deprive 
any man of their enjoyment. But life and" 

* Chap. ii. I X. 


liberty are not "among these." There are in- 
alienable rights, we admit, but then such abstrac- 
tions are the edge-tools of political science, with 
which it is dangerous for either men or children 
to play. They may inflict deep wounds on the 
cause of humanity ; they can throw no light on 
the great problem of slavery. 

One thing seems to be clear and fixed; and 
that is, that the rights of the individual are sub- 
ordinate to those of the community. An inalien- 
able right is a right coupled with a duty ; a duty 
with which no other obligation can interfere. But, 
as we have seen, it is the duty, and consequently, 
the right, of society to make such laws as the 
general good demands. This inalienable right 
is conferred, and its exercise enjoined, by the 
Creator and Governor of the universe. All 
individual rights are subordinate to this inhe- 
rent, universal, and inalienable right. It should 
be observed, however, that in the exercise of 
this paramount right, this supreme authority, 
no society possesses the power to contravene the 
principles of justice. In other words, it should 
be observed that no unjust law can ever pro- 
mote the public good. Every law, then, which 
is not unjust, and which the public good de- 
mandrf, should be enacted by society. 


But we have already seen and shall still more 
fully see, that the law which ordains slavery is 
not unjust in itself, or, in other words, that it 
interferes with none of the inalienable rights 
of man. Hence, if it be shown that the public 
good, and especially the good of the slave, de- 
mands such a law, then the question of slavery 
will be settled. "We purpose to show this before 
we have done with the present discussion. And 
if, in the prosecution of this inquiry, we should 
be so fortunate as to throw only one steady ray 
of light on the great question of slavery, by 
which the very depths of society have been so 
fearfully convulsed, we shall be more than re- 
warded for all the labour which, with no little 
solicitude, we have felt constrained to bestow 
upon an attempt at its solution. 

§ VH. Conclusion of the first chapter. 
In conclusion, we shall merely add that if the 
foregoing remarks be just, it follows that the 
great problem of political philosophy is not 
precisely such as it is often taken to be by 
statesmen and historians. This problem, accord- 
ing to Mackintosh and Macaulay, consists in 
finding such an adjustment of the antagonistic 
principles of public order and private liberty, 


that neither shall overthrow or subvert the other, 
but each be confined within its own appropriate 
limits. "Whereas, if we are not mistaken, these 
are not antagonistic, but co-ordinate, principles. 
The very law which institutes public order is 
that which introduces private liberty, since no 
secure enjoyment of one's rights can exist where 
public order is not maintained. And, on the 
other hand, unless private liberty be introduced, 
public order cannot be maintained, or at least 
such public order as should be established ; for, 
if there be not private hberty, if there be no 
secure enjoyment of one's rights, then the high- 
est and purest elements of our nature would 
have to be extinguished, or else exist in per- 
petual conflict with the surrounding despotism. 
As license is not liberty, so despotism is not 
order, nor even friendly to that enlightened, 
wholesome order, by which the good of the 
public and the individual are at the same time- 
introduced and secured. In other words, what 
is taken from the one of these principles is not 
given to the other ; on the contrary, every addi- 
tional element of strength and beauty which is 
imparted to the one is an accession of strength 
and beauty to the other. Private liberty, in- 
deed, lives and moves and has its very being in 


the bosom of public order. On the other hand, 
that public order alone which cherishes the true 
liberty of the individual is strong in the ap- 
probation of God and in the moral sentiments 
of mankind. All else is weakness, and death, 
and decay. 

The true problem, then, is, not how the con- 
flicting claims of these two principles may be 
adjusted, (for there is no conflict between them,) 
but how a real public order, whose claims are 
identical with those of private liberty, may be 
introduced and maintained. The practical so- 
lution of this problem, for the heterogeneous 
population of the South imperatively demands, 
as we shall endeavor to show, the institution of 
slavery; and that without such an institution it 
would be impossible to maintain either a sound 
public order or a decent private liberty. We 
shall endeavor to show, that the very laws or 
institution which is supposed by fanatical de- 
claimers to shut out liberty from the Negro race 
among us, really shuts out the most frightful 
license and disorder from society. In one word, 
we shall endeavor to show that in preaching 
up liberty to and for the slaves of the South, 
the abolitionist is "casting pearls before swine," 
that can neither comprehend the nature, nor 



enjoy the blessings, of tlie freedom which is so 
officiously thrust upon them. And if the !N'egro 
race should be moved by their fiery appeals, it 
would only be to rend and tear in pieces the 
fair fabric of American liberty, which, with all 
its shortcomings and defects, is by far the most 
beautiful ever yet conceived or constructed by 
the genius of man. 




Having in tlie precediDg chapter discussed 
and defined the nature of civil liberty, as well 
as laid down some of the political conditions on 
which its existence depends, we shall now pro- 
ceed to examine the question of slavery. In 
the prosecution of this inquiry, we shall, in the 
first place, consider the arguments and posi- 
tions of the advocates of immediate abolition; 
and, in the second, point out the reasons and 
grounds on which the institution of slavery is 
based and its justice vindicated. The first branch 
of the investigation, or that relating to the ar- 
guments and positions of the abolitionist, will 
occupy the remainder of the present chapter. 

It is insisted by abolitionists that the insti- 
tution of slavery is, in all cases and under all 
circumstances, morally wrong, or a violation of 
the law of God. Such is precisely the ground 
assumed by the one side and denied by the 


Thus says Dr. Wayland : " I have wished to 
make it clear that slavery, or the holding of 
men in bondage, and ^obliging them to labor 
for our benefit, without their contract or con- 
sent,' is always and everywhere, or, as you well 
express it, semper et uhique, a moral wrong, a 
violation of the obligations under which we are 
created to our fellow-men, and a transgression 
of the law of our Creator." 

Dr. Fuller likewise: "The simple question 
is, Whether it is neeessarilyy and amid all cir- 
cumstances, a crime to hold men in a condition 
where they labor for another without their consent 
or contract ? and in settling this m.atter all im- 
pertinences must be retrenched." 

In one word. Dr. "Wayland insists that slavery 
is condemned by the law of God, hj the moral 
law of the universe. We pui-pose to examine 
the arguments which he has advanced in favor 
of this position. We select his arguments for 
examination, because, as a writer on moral and 
political science, he stands so high in the 
northern portion of the Union. His work on 
these subjects has indeed long since passed the 
fiftieth thousand; a degree of success which, 
in his own estimation, autliorizes him to issue 
his letters on slavery over the signature of " The 

Jt^r ^JiilL. a 


fact that his popularity is so great, and that he 
is the author of the Moral Science, is a reason 
why his arguments on a question of such 
magnitude should be subjected to a severe 
analysis and searching scrutiny, in order that, 
under the sanction of so imposing a name, no 
error may be propagated and no mischief done. 

Hence we shall hold Dr. "Wayland amenable to 
all the laws of logic. Especially shall we require 
him to adhere to the point he has undertaken 
to discuss, and to retrench all irrelevancies. 
If, after having subjected his arguments to 
such a process, it shall be found that every 
position which is assumed on the subject is 
directly contradicted by himself, we shall not 
make haste to introduce anarchy into the 
Southern States, in order to make it answer 
to the anarchy in his views of civil and political 
freedom. But whether this be the case or not, 
it is not for us to determine ; we shall simply 
proceed to examine, and permit the impartial 
reader to decide for himself. 

§ I. The first fallacy of the abolitionist , 
The abolitionists do not hold their passions 
in subjection to reason. This is not merely 


the judgment of a Southern man : it is the 
opinion of the more decent and respectahle 
abolitionists themselves. Thus says Dr. Chan- 
ning, censuring the conduct of the abolitionists : 
"They have done wrong, I believe; nor is 
their wrong to be winked at because done 
fanatically or with good intentions ; for how 
much mischief may be wrought with good designs ! 
They have fallen into the common error of 
enthusiasts— that of exaggerating their object, of 
feeling as if no evil existed but that which they 
opposed, and as if no guilt could be compared 
with that of countenancing or upholding it."* 
In like manner, Dr. "Way land says : "I unite 
with you and the late lamented Dr. Channing 
in the opinion that the tone of the abolitionists 
at the I^orth has been frequently, I fear I must 
say generally, ' fierce, bitter, and abusive.' The 
abolitionist press has, I believe, from the be- 
ginning, too commonly indulged in exaggerated 
statement, in violent denunciation, and in coarse 
and lacerating invective. At our late Missionary 
Convention in Philadelphia, I heard many things 
from men who claim to be the exclusive friends 
of the slave, which pained me more than I can 

*Channing's Works, vol. ii., p. 126. 


express. It seemed to me that the f?pmt which 
many of them manifested was veiy different 
from the spirit of Christ. I also cheerfully bear 
testimony to the general courtesy, the Christian 
urbanity, and the calmness under provocation 
which, in a remarkable degree, characterized 
the conduct of the members from the South." 

In the flood of sophisms which the abolition- 
ists usually pour out in their explosions of pas- 
sion, none is more common than what is tech- 
nically termed by logicians the ignoratio elencM, 
or a mistaking of the point in dispute. ITor is 
this fallacy peculiar to the more vulgar sort of 
abolitionists. It glares from the pages of Dr. 
Wayland, no less than from the writings of the 
most fierce, bitter, and vindictive of his associ- 
ates in the cause of abohtionism. Thus, in one 
of his letters to Dr. Fuller, he says : ^- To pre- 
sent this subject in a simple light. Let us sup- 
pose that your family and mine were neighbors. 
We, our wives and children, are all human 
beings in the sense that I have described, and, 
in consequence of that common nature, and by 
the will of our common Creator, are subject to 
the law, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 
Suppose that I should set fire to your house, 
shoot you as you came out of it, and seizing 


your wife and children, ^oblige them to labor 
for my benefit without their contract or consent.' 
Suppose, moreover, aware that I could not thus 
oblige them, unless they were inferior in in- 
tellect to myself, I should forbid them to read, 
and thus consign them to intellectual and moral 
imbecility. Suppose I should measure out to 
them the knowledge of God on the same prin- 
ciple. Suppose I should exercise this dominion 
over them and their children as long as I lived, 
and then do all in my power to render it certain 
that my children should exercise it after me. 
The question before us I suppose to he simply this : 
Would J, in so doing, act at variance with the re- 
lations existing between us as creatures of G-odf 
Would I, in other words, violate the supreme 
law of my Creator, Thou shalt love thy neighbor 
as thyself? or that other, Whatsoever ye would 
that men should do unto you, do ye even so 
unto them? I do not see how any intelligent 
creature can give more than one answer to this 
question. Then I think that every intelligent 
creature must affirm that to do this is wrong, or, 
in the other form of expression, that it is a great 
moral evil. Can we conceive of any greater?" 

It was surely very kind in Dr. Way land to 
undertake, with so much pains, to instruct us 


poor, benighted sons of the South in regard to 
the difference between right and wrong. "We 
would fain give him full credit for all the kindly 
feeling he so freely professes for his " Southern 
brethren;" but if he really thinks that the 
question, whether arson, and murder, and 
cruelty are offences against the "supreme law 
of the Creator," is still open for discussion 
among us, then we beg leave to inform him 
that he labors under a slight hallucination. 
If he had never written a word, we should 
have known, perhaps, that it is wrong for a man 
to set fire to his neighbor's house, and shoot 
him as he came out, and reduce his wife and 
children to a state of ignorance, degradation, 
and slaveiy. iN'ay, if we should find his house 
already burnt, and himself ali^ady shot, we 
should hardly feel justified in treating his wife 
and children in so cruel a manner. !N'ot even 
if they were "guilty of a skin," or ever so de- 
graded, should we deem ourselves justified in 
reducing them to a state of servitude. This is 
NOT "the question before us." We are quite 
satisfied on all such points. The precept, too, 
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, was not 
altogether unknown in the Southern States be- 
fore his letters were written. A committee of 

D 5 


very amiable philanthropists came all the way 
from England, as the agents of some abolition 
society there, and told us all that the law of God 
requires us to love our neighbor as ourselves. 
In this benevolent work of enlightenment they 
were, if we mistake not, several months in ad- 
vance of Dr. Wayland. We no longer need to 
be enlightened on such points. Being suffi- 
ciently instructed, we admit that we should 
love our neighbor as ourselves, and also that 
arson, murder, and so forth are violations of 
this law. But we want to know whether, semper 
et uhique, the institution of slavery is morally 
wrong. This is the question, and to this we 
intend to hold the author. 

§ n. The sedhnd fallacy of the abolitionist. 

Lest we should be suspected of misrepresen- 
tation, we shall state the position of Dr. Way- 
land in his own words. In regard to the 
institution of slavery, he says: "I do not see 
that it does not sanction the whole system 
of the slave-trade. If I have a right to a 
thing after I have gotten it, I have a natural right 
to the means necessary for getting it. If this 
be so, I should be as much justified in sending 
a vessel to Africa, murdering a part of the 


inhabitants of a village, and making slaves of 
the rest, as I should be in hunting a herd of 
wild animals, and either slaying them or sub- 
jecting them to the yoke." 

'Now mark the principle on which this most 
wonderful argument is based : " If I have a 
right to a thing after I have gotten it, I have 
a natural right to the means for getting it." 
That is to say. If I have the right to a slave, 
now that I have got him, then I may rightfully 
use all necessary means to reduce other men 
to slavery! I may shoot, burn, or murder, if 
by this means I can only get slaves ! "Was any 
consequence ever more wildly drawn? "Was 
any non sequitur ever more glaring? 

Let us see how this argument would apply 
to other things. If I have a right to a watch 
after I have gotten it, no matter how, then I 
have a right to use the means necessary to get 
watches ; I may steal them from my neighbors ! 
Or, if I have a right to a wife, provided I can 
get one, then may I shoot my friend and marry 
his widow ! Such is the argument of one who 
seeks to enlighten the South and reform its 
institutions ! 


. § m. The third fallacy of the abolitionist, 

ISTearlj allied to the foregoing argument is 
that of the same author, in which he deduces 
from the right of slavery, supposing it to exist, 
another retinue of monstrous rights. "This 
right also," says Dr. Way land, referring to the 
right to hold slaves, " as I have shown, involves 
the right to use all the means necessary to 
its establishment and perpetuity, and of course 
the right to crush his intellectual and social 
nature^ and to stupefy his conscience, in so far 
as may be necessary to enable me to enjoy this 
right with the least possible peril." This is 
a compound fallacy, a many-sided error. But 
we will consider only two phases of its ab 

In the first place, if the slaveholder should 
reason in this way, no one would be more ready 
than the author himself to condemn his logic. 
ip any slaveholder should say, That because I 
have a right to my slaves, therefore I have the 
right to crush the intellectual and moral nature 
of men, in order to establish and perpetuate 
their bondage, — ^he would be among the first 
to cry out against such reasoning. This is 
evident from the fact that he everywhere com- 


mends those slaveholders who deem it their 
duty, as a return for the service of their slaves, 
to promote both their temporal and eternal 
good. He everywhere insists that such is the 
duty of slaveholders ; and if such be their duty, 
they surely have no right to violate it, by crush- 
ing the intellectual and moral nature, of those 
whom they are bound to elevate in the scale 
of being. If the slaveholder, then, should 
adopt such an argument, his logic would be 
very justly chargeable by Dr. Wayland with evi- 
dencing not so much the existence of a clear 
head as of a bad heart. 

In the second place, the above argument 
overlooks the fact that the Southern statesman 
vindicates the institution of slavery on the 
ground that it finds the I^egro race already so 
degraded as to unfit it for a state of freedom. 
He does not argue that it is right to seize those 
who, by the possession of cultivated intellects 
and pure morals, are fit for freedom, and debase 
them in order to prepare them for social bond- 
age. He does not imagine that it is ever right 
to shoot, burn, or corrupt, in order to reduce 
any portion of the enlightened universe to a 
state of servitude. He merely insists that those 
only who are already unfit for a higher and 


nobler state than one of slavery, should be 
held by society in such a state. This position, 
although it is so prominently set forth by every 
advocate of slavery at the South, is almost in- 
variably overlooked by the !N"orthern abolition- 
ists. They talk, and reason, and declaim, in- 
deed, just as if we had caught a bevy of black 
angels as they were winging their way to some 
island of purity and bliss here upon earth, and 
reduced them from their heavenly state, by the 
most diabolical cruelties and oppressions, to one 
of degradation, misery, and servitude. They 
forget that Africa is not yet a paradise, and 
that Southern servitude is not quite a hell. 
They forget — in the heat and haste of their 
argument they forget — that the institution of 
slavery is designed by the South not for the 
enlightened and the free, but only for the igno- 
rant and the debased. They need to be con- 
stantly reminded that the institution of slavery 
is not the mother, but the daughter, of igno- 
rance and degradation. It is, indeed, the legi- 
timate offspring of that intellectual and moral 
debasement which, for so many thousand years, 
has been accumulating and growing upon the 
African race. And if the abolitionists at the 
Korth will only invent some method by which 



all this frightful mass of degradation may be 
blotted out at once, then will we most cheer- 
fiiUy consent to ^Hhe immediate abolition of 
slavery." On this point, however, we need not 
dwell, as we shall have occasion to recur to it 
again when we come to consider the grounds 
and reasons on which the institution of slavery 
is vindicated. 

Having argued that the right of slavery, if it 
exist, implies the right to shoot and murder an 
enlightened neighbor, with a view to reduce his 
wife and children to a state of servitude, as well 
as to crush their intellectual and moral nature 
in order to keep them in such a state, the 
author adds, "If I err in making these infer- 
ences, I err innocently.'' We have no doubt 
of the most perfect and entire innocence of the 
author. But we would remind him that inno- 
cence, however perfect or childlike, is not the 
only quality which a great reformer should 

§ rV. The fourth fallacy of the abolitionist. 

He is often guilty of a petitio principii, in 
taking it for granted that the institution of 
slavery is an injury to the slave, which is the 
very point in dispute. Thus says Dr. Wayland: 


" If it be asked when, [slavery must be aban- 
doned,] I ask again, when shall a man begin 
to cease doing wrong ? Is not the answer im- 
mediately f If a man is injuring us, do we doubt 
as to the time when he ought to cease ? There 
is, then, no doubt in respect to the time when 
we ought to cease inflicting injury upon others."* 
Here it is assumed that slavery is an injury 
to the slave: but this is the very point which 
is denied, and which he should have discussed. 
If a state of slavery be a greater injury to the 
slave than a state of freedom would be, then 
are we willing to admit that it should be 
abolished. But even in that case, not im- 
mediately, unless it could be shown that the 
remedy would not be worse than the evil. K, on 
the whole, the institution of slavery be a curse 
to the slave, we say let it be abolished ; not 
suddenly, however, as if by a whirlwind, but 
by the counsels of wise, cautious, and far-seeing 
statesmen, who, capable of looking both before 
and after, can comprehend in their plans of re- 
form all the diversified and highly-complicated 
interests of society. 

"But it may be said," continues the author, 

* Elements of Moral Science, Part ii, chap. i. sec. 11. 


"immediate abolition would be the greatest 
possible injury to the slaves themselves. They 
are not competent to self-government." True: 
this is the very thing which may be, and which 
is, said by every Southern statesman in his ad- 
vocacy of the institution of slavery. Let us see 
the author's reply. *' This is a question of fact," 
says he, " which is not in the provirice of moral 
philosophy to decide. It very likely may be so. 
So far as I know,- the facts are not sufficiently 
known to warrant a full opinion on the subject. 
We will, therefore, suppose it to be the case, 
and ask, "Wliat is the duty of masters under these 
circumstances?" In the discussion of this ques- 
tion, the author comes to the conclusion that a 
master may hold his slaves in bondage, provided 
, his intentions be good, and with a view to set 
them at liberty as soon as they shall be quali- 
fied for such a state. 

Moral philosophy, then, it seems, when it 
closes its eyes upon facts, pronounces that 
slavery should be immediately abolished; but 
if it consider facts, which, instead of being de- 
nied, are admitted to be "very likely" true, it 
decides against its immediate abolition ! Or, 
rather, moral philosophy looks at the fact that 
slavery is an injury, in order to see that it should 


be forthwith abolished ; but closes its eyes upon 
the fact that its abolition may be a still greater 
injury, lest this foregone conclusion should be 
called in question ! Has moral philosophy, then, 
a,n eye only for the facts which lie one side of 
the question it proposes to decide ? 

Slavery is an injury^ says Dr. Wayland, and 
therefore it should be immediately abolished. 
But its abolition would be a still greater injury^ 
replies the objector. This may be true, says 
Dr. Wayland : it is highly probable ; but then 
this question of injury is one of fact, which it 
is not in the province of moral philosophy to 
decide ! So much for the consistency and even- 
handed justice of the author. 

The position assumed by him, that questions 
of fact are not within the province of moral 
philosophy, is one of so great importance that 
it deserves a separate and distinct notice. 
Though seldom openly avowed, yet is it so 
often tacitly assumed in the arguments and 
declamations of abolitionists, that it shall be 
more fully considered in the following section. 

§ Y. The fifth fallacy of the aholitionist. 
" Suppose that A has a right to use the body 
of B according to his — that is, A's — will. Now 


if this be true, it is true universally ; and hence, 
A has the control over the body of B, and B 
has control over the body of C, C of D, &c., and 
Z again over the body of A: that is, every 
separate will has the right of control over some 
other body besides its own, and has no right 
of control over its own body or intellect."* 
Now, if men were cut out of pasteboard, all 
exactly alike, and distinguished from each other 
only by the letters of the alphabet, then the 
reasoning of the author would be excellent. 
But it happens that men are not cut out of 
pasteboard. They are distinguished by differ- 
ences of character, by diverse habits and pro- 
pensities, which render the reasonings of the 
political philosopher rather more difficult than 
if he had merely to deal with or arrange the 
letters of the alphabet. In one, for example, 
the intellectual and moral part is almost wholly- 
eclipsed by the brute ; while, in another, reason 
and religion have gained the ascendancy, so as 
to maintain a steady empire over the whole 
man. The first, as the author himself admits, 
is incompetent to self-government, and should 
therefore be held by the law of society in a state 

* Moral Science, Part ii. chap, i. sec. 2. 


of seiTitude. But does it follow that "" if this be 
true, it is true universalis/ f' Because one 
man who cannot govern himself may be go- 
verned by another, does it follow that every 
man should be governed by others? Does it 
follow that the one who has acquired and main- 
tained the most perfect self-government, should 
be subjected to th^ control of him who is wholly 
incompetent to control himself ? Yes, certainly, 
if the reasoning of Dr. Wayland be true; but, 
according to every sound principle of political 
ethics, the answer is, emphatically, No ! 

There is a difference between a Hottentot and 
a It^ewton. The first should no more be con- 
demned to astronomical calculations and dis- 
coveries, than the last should be required to 
follow a plough. Such differences, however, 
are overlooked by much of the reasoning of 
the abolitionist. In regard to the question 
of fact, whether a man is really a man and not 
a mere thing, he is profoundly versed. He can 
discourse most eloquently upon this subject: he 
can prove, by most irrefragable arguments, that 
a Hottentot is a man as well as a !N'ewton. 
But as to the .differences among men, such nice 
distinctions are beneath his philosophy ! It is 
true that one may be sunk so low in the scale 


of being that civil freedom would be a curse to 
him ; yet, whether this be so or not, is a ques- 
tion of fact which his philosophy does not stoop 
to decide. He merely wishes to know what 
rights A can possibly have, either by the law of 
God or man, which do not equally belong to 
B? And if A would feel it an injury to be 
placed under the control of B, then " there is no 
doubt" that it is equally wrong to place B under 
the control of A ? In plain English, if it would 
be injurious and wrong to subject a llTewton to 
the will of a Hottentot, then it would be equally 
injurious and wrong to subject a Hottentot to 
the will of a I^ewton ! Such is the inevitable 
consequence of his very profound political prin- 
ciples ! !N"ay, such is the identical consequence 
which he draws from his own principles ! 

If questions of fact are not within the pro- 
vince of the moral philosopher, then the moral 
philosopher has no business vdth the science 
of political ethics. This is not a pure, it is a 
mixed science. Facts can no more be over- 
looked by the political architect, than magni- 
tude can be disregarded by the mathematician. 
The man, the political dreamer, who pays no 
attention to them, may be fit, for aught we 
know, to frame a government out of moonshine 


for the inhabitants of Utopia; but, if we might 
choose our own teachers in political wisdom, 
we should decidedly prefer those who have an 
eye for facts as well as abstractions. If we may 
borrow a figure from Mr. Macaulay, the legis- 
lator who sees no difference among men, but 
proposes the same kind of government for all, 
acts about as wisely as a tailor who should 
measure the Apollo Belvidere to cut clothes 
for all his customers — for the pigmies as well 
as for the giants. 

§ VI. The sixth fallacy of the aholitionist. 

It is asserted by Dr. Wayland that the insti- 
tution of slavery is condemned as "a violation 
of the plainest dictates of natural justice," by 
"the natural conscience of man, from at least 
as far back as the time of Aristotle." If any 
one should infer that Aristotle himself con- 
demned the institution of slavery, he would be 
grossly deceived; for it is known to every one 
who has read the Politics of Aristotle that he 
is, under certain circumstances, a strenuous ad- 
vocate of the natural justice, as well as of the 
political wisdom, of slavery. Hence we shall 
suppose that Dr. Wayland does not mean to 
include Aristotle in his broad assertion, but 


only those who came after him. Even in this 
sense, or to this extent, his positive assertion 
is so diametrically opposed to the plainest facts 
of history, that it is difficult to conceive how 
he could have persuaded himself of its truth. 
It is certain that, on other occasions, he was 
perfectly aware of the fact that the natural con- 
science of man, from the time of Aristotle down 
to that of the Christian era, was in favor of the 
institution of slavery; for as often as it has 
served his purpose to assert this fact, he has not 
hesitated to do so. Thus, "the universal ex- 
istence of slavery at the time of Christ," says 
he, "took its origin from the moral darkness 
of the age. The immortality of the soul was 
unknown. Out of the Hebrew nation not a 
man on earth had any true conception of the 
character of the Deity or of our relations and 
obligations to him. The law of universal love 
to man had never been heard of."* l^o wonder 
he here argues that slavery received the universal 
sanction of the heathen world, since so great was 
the moral darkness in which they were involved. 
This darkness was so great, if we may believe ^ 
the author, that the men of one nation esteemed 

* Letters on Slavery, p. 89. 


those of another "as hy nature foes, whom they 
had a right" not only "to subdue or enslave, 
but also to murder "whenever and in what 
manner soever they were able."* The sweep- 
ing assertion, that such was the moral darkness 
of the heathen world, is wide of the truth; 
for, at the time of Christ, no ci^dlized nation 
"esteemed it right to murder or enslave, when- 
ever and in what manner soever they were able," 
the people of other nations. There were some 
ideas of natural justice, even then, among men ; 
and if there were not, why does Dr. Wayland 
appeal to their ideas of natural justice as one 
argument against slavery? If the heathen 
world " esteemed it right"= to make slaves, how 
can it be said that its conscience condemned 
slavery? Is it not evident that Dr. "Wayland 
is capable of asserting either the one thing or 
its opposite, just as it may happen to serve the 
purpose of his anti-slavery argument ? Whether 
facts lie within the province of moral philosophy 
or not, it is certain, we think, that the moral 
philosopher who may be pleased to set facts at 
naught has no right to substitute fictions in 
their stead. 

* Letters on Slavery, p. 92. 


§ VII. The seventh fallacy of the dbolitionisL 
"Thou slialt love thy neighbor as thyself," 
is the rule of action which, in the estimation 
of abolitionists, should at once and forever de- 
cide every good man against the institution of 
slavery. But when we consider the stupendous 
interests involved in the question, and especially 
those of an intellectual and moral nature, we 
dare not permit ourselves to be carried away 
by any form of mere words. We must pause 
and investigate. The fact that the dexterous 
brandishing of the beautiful precept in question 
has made, and will no doubt continue to make, 
its thousands of converts or victims, is a reason 
why its real import should be the more closely 
examined and the more clearly defined. The 
havoc it makes among those whose philan- 
thropy is stronger than their judgment — or, if 
you please, whose judgment is weaker than 
their philanthropy — flows not from the divine 
precept itself, but only from human interpre- 
tations thereof. And it should ever be borne 
in mind that he is the real enemy of the great 
cause of philanthropy who, by absurd or over- 
strained applications of this sublime precept, 
lessens that profound respect to which it is so 

E C* 


j Qstly entitled from every portion of the ra- 
tional universe. 

It is repeatedly affirmed by Dr. "Wayland 
that every slaveholder lives in the habitual and 
open violation of the precept which requires us 
to love our neighbor as ourselves. " The moral 
precepts of the Bible," says he, "are diametri- 
cally opposed to slavery. These are, ' Thou shalt 
love thy neighbor as thyself,' and 'All things 
whatsoever ye would that men should do unto 
you, do ye even so unto them.' Now, were this 
precept obeyed," he continues, "it is manifest 
that slavery could not in fact exist for a single 
instant. The principle of the precept is abso- 
lutely subversive of the principle of slavery." 
If strong assertion were argument, we should 
no doubt be overwhelmed by the irresistible 
logic of Dr. Wayland. But the assertion of no 
man can be accepted as sound argument. We 
want to know the very meaning of the words 
of the great Teacher, and to be guided by that, 
rather than by the fallible authority of an earthly 
oracle. "What, then, is the meaning, the real 
meaning, of his inspired words ? 

Do they mean that whatsoever we might, in 
any relation of life, desire for ourselves, we 
should be willing to grant to others in the like 


relation or condition? This interpretation, we 
are aware, has been put upon the words by a 
very celebrated divine. If we may believe that 
divine, we cannot do as we would be done by, 
unless, when we desire the estate of another, we 
forthwith transfer our estate to him ! If a poor 
man, for example, should happen to covet the 
estate of his rich neighbor, then he is bound by 
this golden rule of benevolence to give his little 
all to him, without regard to the necessities or 
wants of his own family ! But this interpreta- 
tion, though seriously propounded by a man of 
undoubted genius and piety, has not, so far as 
we know, made the slightest possible impression 
on the plain good sense of mankind. Even 
among his most enthusiastic admirers, it has 
merely excited a good-natured smile at what 
they could not but regard as the strange hal- 
lucination of a benevolent heart. 

A wrong desire in one relation of life is not a 
reason for a wrong act in another relation thereof. 
A man may desire the estate, he may desire the 
man-servant, or the maid-servant, or the wife 
of his neighbor, but this is no reason why he 
should abandon his own man-servant, or his 
maid-servant, or his wife to the will of another. 
The criminal who trembles at the bar of justice 


may desire both judge and jury to acquit him, 
but this is no reason why, if acting in the 
capacity of either judge or juror, he should 
bring in a verdict of acquittal in favor of one 
justly accused of crime. If we would apply the 
rule in question aright, we should consider, not 
what we might wish or desire if placed in the 
situation of another, but what we ought to wish 
or desire. 

If a man were a child, he might wish to be 
exempt from the wholesome restraint of his 
parents; but this, as every one will admit, is 
no reason why he should abandon his own chil- 
dren to themselves. In like manner, if he were 
a slave, he might most vehemently desire free- 
dom ; but this is no reason why he should set 
his slaves at liberty. The whole question of 
right turns upon what he ought to wish or de- 
sire if placed in such a condition. If he were an 
intelligent, cultivated, civilized man, — in one 
word, if he were fit for freedom, — then his de- 
sire for liberty would be a rational desire, would 
be such a feeling as he ought to cherish ; and 
hence, he should be willing to extend the same 
blessing to all other intelligent, cultivated, civil- 
ized men, to all such as are prepared for its 
enjoyment. Such is the sentiment which he 


should entertain, and such is precisely the senti- 
ment entertained at the South. 'No one here 
proposes to reduce any one to slavery, much 
less those who are qualified for freedom; and 
hence the inquiry so often propounded by Dr. 
"Wayland and other abolitionists, how we would 
like to be subjected to bondage, is a grand 
impertinence. "We should like it as little as 
themselves ; and in this respect we shall do as 
we would be done by. 

But suppose we were veritable slaves — slaves 
in character and in disposition as well as in fact 
— and as unfit for freedom as the Africans of 
the South — what ought we then to wish or de- 
sire ? Ought we to desire freedom ? We an- 
swer, no ; because on that supposition freedom 
would be a curse and not a blessing. Dr. "Way- 
land himself admits that " it is very likely" fi:'ee- 
dom would be "the greatest possible injury" to 
the slaves of the South. Hence, we cannot 
perceive that if we were such as they, we ought 
to desire so great an evil to ourselves. It would 
indeed be to desire "the greatest possible 
injury" to ourselves; and though, as ignorant 
and blind slaves, we might cherish so foolish a 
desire, especially if instigated by abolitionists, 
yet this is no reason why, as enlightened citi- 


zens, we should be willing to inflict the same 
great, evil upon others. A foolish desire^ we re- 
peat, in one relation of life, is not a good reason for 
a foolish or injurious act in another relation thereof. 

The precept which requires us to do as we 
would be done by, was intended to enlighten 
the conscience. It is used by abolitionists to 
hoodwink and deceive the conscience. This 
precept directs us to conceive ourselves placed 
in the condition of others, in order that we may 
the more clearly perceive what is due to them. 
The abolitionist employs it to convince us that, 
because we desire liberty for ourselves, we 
should extend it to all men, eve^ to those who 
are not qualified for its enjoyment, and to whom 
it would prove "the greatest possible injuiy." 
He employs it not to show us what is due to 
others, but to persuade us to injure them ! He 
may deceive himself; but so long as we believe 
what even he admits as highly probable — namely, 
that the "abolition of slavery would be the 
greatest possible injury to the slaves them- 
selves"— we shall never use the divine precept 
as an instrument of delusion and of wrong. 
What ! inflict the greatest injury on our neigh- 
bor, and that, too, out of pure Christian charity? 

But we need not argue with the abolitionist 


upon his own admissions. We have infinitely 
stronger ground to stand on. The precept, 
"Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," is to 
be found in the Old Testament as well as in 
the "New. Thus, in the nineteenth chapter of 
Leviticus, it is said, "Thou shalt love thy 
neighbor as thyself;" and no greater love than 
this is anywhere inculcated in the 'New Testa- 
ment. Yet in the twenty-fifth chapter of the 
same book, it is written, " Of the children of 
the strangers that do sojourn among you, of 
them shall ye buy, and of their families that 
are with you, which they begat in your land : 
and they shall be your possession. And ye 
shall take them as an inheritance for your 
children after you, to inherit them for a pos- 
session; they shall be your bondsmen forever." 
This language is too plain for controversy. In 
regard to this very passage, in which the He- 
brews are commanded to enter upon and take 
possession of the land of the Canaanites, Dr. 
Wayland himself is constrained to admit — "The 
authority to take them as slaves seems to be 
a part of this original, peculiar, and I may per- 
haps say, anomalous grant."* ITow, if the prin- 

* Letters, p. 50. 


ciple of slavery, and the principle of the precept, 
Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, be as 
Dr. "Wayland boldly asserts, always and every- 
where at war with each other, how has it hap- 
pened that both principles are so clearly and 
so unequivocally embodied in one and the same 
code by the Supreme Ruler of the world ? Has 
this discrepancy escaped the eye of Omniscience, 
and remained in the code of laws from heaven, 
to be detected and exposed by " the author of 
the Moral Science" ? 

We do not mean that Dr. Wayland sees any 
discrepancy among the principles of the divine 
legislation. It is true he sees there the pre- 
cept, " Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," 
and also this injunction, "Thou shalt buy them 
for a possession," and "They shall be your 
bondmen forever;" but although this looks 
very "anomalous" to him, he dare not pro- 
nounce it absurd or self-contradictoiy. It is 
true, he declares, that slavery is condemned 
always and everywhere by " the plainest dictates 
of natural justice ;" but yet, although, according 
to his own admission,* it was instituted by 
Heaven, he has found out a method to save 

* Letters, p. 50. 


the character of the Almighty from the disgrace 
of such a law. He says, "I know the word 
'shaW is used when speaking of this subject, 
but it is clearly used as prophetic, and not as 
mandatory.'' Ay, the words "thou shalt" are 
used in regard to the buying and holding of 
slaves, just as they are used in the commands 
which precede and follow this injunction. 
There is no change in the form of the expres- 
sion. There is not, in any way, the slightest 
intimation that the Lawgiver is about to pro- 
phesy; all seems to be a series of commands, 
and is clothed in the same language of au- 
thority — '^tJiou shalt.'' Yet in one particular 
instance, and in one instance only, this language 
seems " clearly" prophetic to Dr. Wayland, and 
not mandatory. iN'ow, I submit to the candid 
and impartial reader, if this be not egregious 
trifling with the word of God. 

Dr. Wayland forgets that he had himself ad- 
mitted that the very passage in question clothed 
the Hebrews with "the authority to take slaves."* 
He now, in the face of his own admission, de- 
clares that this language "is clearly prophetic," 
and tells what would or what might be, and not 

* Letters, p. 50. 



what should or what must be." The poor He- 
brews, however, when they took slaves by the 
authority of a 'Hhou sliaW from the Lord, never 
imagined that they were merely fulfilling a pro- 
phecy, and committing an abominable sin. 

This is clear to Dr. Wayland, if we may trust 
the last expression of his opinion. But it is 
to be regretted, that either the clearness of his 
perceptions, or the confidence of his assertions, 
is so often disproportioned to the evidence be- 
fore him. Thus, he says with the most admi- 
rable niodesty, " It seems to me that the soul is 
the most important part of a human being;"* 
and yet he peremptorily and positively declares 
that the very strongest language of authority 
ever found in Scripture " is clearly used as pro- 
phetic and not mandatory !" He may, however, 
well reserve the tone of dogmatic authority for 
such propositions, since, if they may not be car- 
ried by assertion, they must be left wholly with- 
out the least shadow of support. But one would 
suppose that strength of assertion in such cases 
required for its unembarrassed utterance no 
little strength of countenance. 

"If any one doubts," says Dr. Wayland, "re- 

* Letters, p. 113. 


Bpecting the bearing of tlie Scripture precept 
upon this case, a few plain questions may throw 
additional light upon the subject."* !Now, if 
we mistake not, the few plain questions which 
he deems so unanswerable may be answered 
with the most perfect ease. "Would the master 
be willing," he asks, " that another person should 
subject him to slavery, for the same reasons and 
on the same grounds that he holds his slave 
in bondage?" We answer, 'No, If any man 
should undertake to subject Southern masters 
to slavery, on the ground that they are intellec- 
tually and morally sunk so low as to be unfit 
for freedom or self-control, we should certainly 
not like the compliment. It may argue a very 
great degree of self-complacency in us, but yet 
the plain fact is, that we really do believe our- 
selves competent to govern ourselves, and to 
manage our affairs, without the aid of masters. 
And as we are not willing to be made slaves 
of, especially on any such humiliating grounds, 
so we are not willing to see any other nation 
or race of men, whom we may deem qualified 
for the glorious condition of freedom, sub- 
jected to servitude. 

* Moral Science, Part ii. chap. i. § 2. 


"Would the gospel allow us," he also asks, 
" if it were in our power, to reduce our fellow- 
citizens of our own color to slayeiy?" Cer- 
tainly not. ISTor do we propose to reduce any 
one, either white or black, to a state of slavery. 
It is amazing to see with what an air of con- 
fidence such questions are propounded. Dr. 
Channing, no less than Dr. Wayland, seems to 
think they must carry home irresistible con- 
viction to the heart and conscience of every 
man who is not irremediably blinded by the 
detestable institution of slavery. "I'fow, let 
every reader," says he, "ask himself this plain 
question: Could I, can I, be rightfally seized 
and made an article of property?" And we, 
too, say, Let every reader ask himself this plain 
question, and then, if he please, answer it in 
the negative. But what, then, should follow? 
Why, if you please, he should refuse to seize 
any other man or to make him an article of 
property. He should be opposed to the crime 
of kidnapping. But if, from such an answer, 
he should conclude that the institution of slavery 
is " everywhere and always wrong," then surely, 
after what has been said, not another word is 
needed to expose the ineifable weakness and 
futilitv of the conclusion. 


This golden rule, this divine precept, requires 
us to conceive ourselves placed in the condition 
of our slaves, and then to ask ourselves. How 
should we be treated by the master ? in order to 
obtain a clear and impartial view of our duty to 
them. This it requires of us ; and this we can 
most cheerfully perform. We can conceive that 
we are poor, helpless, dependent beings, pos- 
sessing the passions of men and the intellects of 
children. We can conceive that we are by 
nature idle, improvident, and, without a pro- 
tector and friend to guide and control us, utterly 
unable to take care of ourselves. And, having 
conceived all this, if we ask ourselves. How 
should we be treated by the masters whom the 
law has placed over us, what is the response? 
Is it that they should turn us loose to shift for 
ourselves? Is it that they should abandon us 
to ourselves, only to fall a prey to indolence, and 
to the legion of vices and crimes which ever fol- 
low in its train ? Is it that they should set us 
free, and expose us, without protection, to the 
merciless impositions of the worst portions of 
a stronger and more sagacious race ? Is it, in 
one word, that we should be free from the do- 
minion of men who, as a general thing, are 
humane and wise in their management of us, 


only to become the victims — the most debased 
and hopeless \ictims — of every evil way? We 
answer, 'No ! Even the spirit of abolitionism 
itself has, in the person of Dr. Wayland, de- 
clared that such treatment would, in all proba- 
bility, be the greatest of calamities. We feel 
sure it would be an infinite and remediless curse. 
And as we believe that, if we were in the condi- 
tion of slaves, such treatment would be so great 
and so withering a curse, so we cannot, out of a 
feeling of love, proceed to inflict this curse upon 
our slaves. On the contrary, tve would do as we 
so clearly see ive ought to be done by, if our con- 
ditions were changed. 

Is it not amazing, as well as melancholy, that 
learned divines, who undertake to instruct the 
benighted South in the great principles of duty, 
should entertain such superficial and erroneous 
views of the first, great, and all-comprehending 
precept of the gospel? If their interpretation 
of this precept were correct, then the child might 
be set free from the authority of the father, and 
the criminal from the sentence of the judge. 
All justice would be extinguished, all order 
overthrown, and boundless confusion introduced 
into the afiah's of men. Yet, mth unspeakable 
self-complacency, they come with such miserable 


interpretations of the plainest truths to instruct 
those whom they conceive to be blinded by cus- 
tom and the institution of slavery to the clearest 
light of heaven. They tell us, " Thou shouldst 
love thy neighbor as thyself;" and they reiterate 
these words in our ears, just as if we had never 
heard them before. K this is all they have to 
say, why then we would remind them that the 
meaning of the precept is the precept. It is not 
a mere sound, it is sense, which these glorious 
words are intended to convey. And if they can 
only repeat the words for us, why then they 
might just as well send a host of free negroes 
with good, strong lungs to be our instructors in 
moral science. 

§ Vm. The eighth fallacy of the abolitionist. 

An argument is drawn from the divine attri- 
butes against the institution of slavery. One 
would suppose that a declaration from God 
himself is some little evidence as to what is 
agreeable to his attributes; but it seems that 
moral philosophers have, now-a-days, found 
out a better method of arriving at what is im- 
plied by his perfections. Dr. Wayland is one 
of those who, setting aside the word of God, 
appeal to his attributes in favor of the imme- 


diate and universal abolition of slavery. K 
slavery were abolished, says he, "the laborer 
would then work in conformity with the con- 
ditions which God has appointed, whereas he 
now works at variance with them ; in the one 
case, we should be attempting to accumulate pro- 
perty under the blessing of God, whereas now 
we are attempting to do it under Ms special and 
peculiar malediction. How can we expect to 
prosper, when there is not, as Mr. Jefferson re- 
marks, ' an attribute of the Almighty that can 
be appealed to in our favor' ? "* If we may rely 
upon his own words, rather than upon the con- 
fident assertions of Dr. "Wayland, we need not 
fear the curse of God upon the slaveholder. 
The readiness with which Dr. "Wayland points 
the thunders of the divine wrath at our heads, 
is better evidence of the passions of his own 
heart than of the perfections of the Almighty. 

Again he says : " If Jefferson trembled for his 
country when he remembered that God is just, 
and declared that, ' in case of insurrection, the 
Almighty has no attribute that can take part with 
us in the contest,' surely it becomes a disciple 
of Jesus Christ to pause and reflect." Now let it 

* Letters, p. 110, 120. 


be borne in mind that all this proceeds from a 
man, from a professed disciple of Jesus Christ, 
who, in various places, has truly, as well as 
emphatically, said, " The duty of slaves is also 
explicitly made known in the Bible. They are 
bound to obedience, fidelity, submission, and re- 
spect to their masters,"* ka. &c. 

Such, then, according to Dr. Way land him- 
self, is the clear and unequivocal teaching of 
revelation. And such being the case, shall the 
real "disciple of Jesus Christ" be made to be- 
lieve, on the authority of Mr. Jefferson or of 
any other man, that the Almighty has no attri- 
bute *which could induce him to take sides with 
his own law ? If, instead of submission to that 
law, there should be rebellion,^and not only 
rebellion, but bloodshed and murder, — shall we 
believe that the Almighty, the supreme Ruler of 
heaven and earth, would look on well pleased ? 
Since such is the express declaration of God 
himself respecting the duty of slaves, it surely 
becomes a disciple of Christ to pause and reflect 
whether he will follow his voice or the voice 
of man. 

"We owe at least one benefit to the Northern 

* Moral Science, Part ii. chap. i. sec. 2. 


abolitionists. Ere the subject of slavery was 
agitated by them, there were many loose, float- 
ing notions among us, as well as among them- 
selves, respecting the nature of liberty, which 
were at variance with the institution of slavery. 
But since this agitation began, we have looked 
more narrowly into the grounds of slavery, as 
^^ell as into the character of the arguments by 
i^hich it is assailed, and we have found the first 
^s solid as adamant, the last as unsubstantial 
as moonshine. If Mr. Jefferson had lived till 
the present day, there can be no doubt, we 
think, that he would have been on the same side 
of this great question with the Calhouns, the 
Clays, and the Websters of the country. "We 
have known many who, at one time, fully con- 
curred with Mr. Jefferson on this subject, but 
are now firm believers in the perfect justice and 
humanity of negro slavery. 

§ IX. The ninth fallacy of the aholitionist. 
We have already seen that the abolitionist 
argues the question of slavery as if South- 
erners were proposing to catch freemen and 
reduce them to bondage. He habitually over- 
looks the fact, that slavei-y results, not from 
the action of the individual, but from an 


ordinance of the State. He forgets that it is 
a civil institution, and proceeds to argue as 
if it were founded in individual wrong. And 
even when he rises — as he sometimes does — 
to a contemplation of the real question in 
dispute, he generally takes a most narrow 
and one-sided view of the subject. For he 
generally takes it for granted that the legis- 
lation which ordains the institution of slavery 
is intended solely and exclusively for the bene- 
fit of the master, without the least regard to 
the interests of the slave 

Thus says Dr. Wayland : " Domestic slavery 
proceeds upon the principle that the master 
has a right to control the actions — physical 
and intellectual — of the slave for his own 
(that is, the master's) individual benefit,"* &c. 
And again : "It supposes that the Creator 
intended one human being to govern the 
physical, intellectual, and moral actions of as 
many other human beings as, by purchase, he 
can bring within his physical power; and that 
one human being may thus acquire a right to 
sacrifice the happiness of any number of other 
human beings, for the purpose of promoting his 

* Moral Science, Part ii. chap. i. sec. 2. 


owny^ !N"ow, surely, if this representation be 
just, then the institution of slavery should be 
^held in infinite abhorrence by every man in 

But we can assure Dr. "Wayland that, how- 
ever ignorant or heathenish he may be pleased 
to consider the people of the Southern States, 
we are not so utterly lost to all reverence for 
the Creator as to suppose, even for a mo- 
ment, that he intended any one human being 
to possess the right of sacrificing the happiness 
of his fellow-men to his own, We can assure 
him that we are not quite so dead to every 
sentiment of political justice, as to imagine 
that any legislation which intends to benefit 
the one at the expense of the many is other- 
wise than unequal and iniquitous in the ex- 
treme. There is some little sense of justice 
left among us yet; and hence we approve of 
no institution or law which proceeds on the 
monstrous principle that any one man has, or 
can have, the '''right to sacrifice the happiness 
of any number of other human beings for the 
purpose of promoting his ownJ" We recognise 
no such right. It is as vehemently abhorred 

* Moral Science, Part ii. chap. i. sec. 2. 


and condemned by us as it can be abhorred 
and condemned by the author himself. 

In thus taking it for granted, as Dr. Way- 
land so coolly does, that the institution in 
question is "intended" to sacrifice the happi- 
ness of the slaves to the selfish interests of the 
master, he incontinently begs the whole ques- 
tion. Let him establish this point, and the 
whole controversy will be at an end. But let 
him not hope to establish any thing, or to 
satisfy any one, by assuming the very point in 
dispute, and then proceed to demolish what 
every man at the South condemns no less 
than himself. Surely, no one who has looked 
at both sides of this great question can be 
ignorant that the legislation of the South pro- 
ceeds on the principle that slavery is bene- 
ficial, not to the master only, but also and espe- 
cially to the slave. 'Surely, no one who has 
either an eye or an ear for facts can be igno- 
rant that the institution of slavery is based 
on the ground, or principle, that it is bene- 
ficial, not only to the parts, but also to the 
whole, of the society in which it exists. This 
ground, or principle, is set forth in every de- 
fence of slavery by the writers and speakers 
of the South; it is so clearly arid so un- 


equivocally set forth, that he who runs may 
read. Why, then, is it overlooked by Dr. 
Wayland? Why is he pleased to imagine that 
he is combatting Southern principles, when, in 
reality, he is merely combatting the monstrous 
figment, the distorted conception of his own 
brain, — namely, the right of one man to sacri- 
fice the happiness of multitudes to his own 
will and pleasure ? Is it because facts do not lie 
vdthin the province of the moral philosopher? 
Is it because fiction alone is worthy of his 
attention? Or is it because a blind, partisan 
zeal has so far taken possession of his very 
understanding, that he finds it impossible to 
speak of the institution of slavery, except in 
the language of the grossest misrepresenta- 

§ X. The tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, 
fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth fallacies of the 
abolitionist; or his seven arguments against the 
right of a man to hold property in his fellow-man. 

" This claim of property in a human be- 
ing," says Dr. Channing, "is altogether false, 
groundless. Ko such right of- man in man 
can exist. A human being cannot be justly 
owned." The only difficulty in maintaining 


this position is, according to Dr. Channing, 
" on account of its exceeding obviousness. It 
is too plain for proof. To defend it is like 
trying to confirm a self-evident truth," &c. &c. 
Yet he advances no less than seven "argu- 
ments," as he calls them, in order to establish 
this self-evident position. We shall examine 
these seven' arguments, and see if his great 
confidence be not built on a mere abuse of 

" The consciousness of our humanity," says 
he, "involves the persuasion that we cannot 
be owned as a tree or a brute." This, as 
everybody knows, is one of the hackneyed 
commonplaces of the abolitionist. He never 
ceases to declaim about the injustice of slavery, 
because it regards, as he is pleased to assert, a 
man as a mere thing or a brute. ITow, once for 
all, we freely admit that it were monstrously 
unjust to regard or treat a man otherwise than 
as a man. We freely admit that a human be- 
ing "cannot be owned as a tree or a brute." 

A tree may be absolutely owned. That is 
to say, the owner of a tree may do what he 
pleases with his own, provided he do no harm 
or injury with it. He may cut it down; and, 
if he please, he may beat it as long as he has 


the power to raise an arm. He may work it 
into a house or into a piece of furniture, or 
he may lay it on the fire, and reduce it to 
ashes. He may, we repeat, do just exactly 
what he pleases with his own, if his own be 
such a thing as a tree, for a tree has no rights. 

It is far otherwise with a brute. The owner 
of a horse, for example, may not do what he 
pleases with his own. Here his property is not 
absolute; it is limited. He may not beat his 
horse without mercy, " for a good man is mer- 
ciful to his beast." He may not cut his horse to 
pieces, or burn him on the fire. For the horse 
has rights, which the owner himself is bound to 
respect. The horse has a right to food and 
kind treatment, and the owner who refuses 
these is a tyrant, l^ay, the very worm that 
crawls beneath our feet has his rights as well 
as the monarch on his throne; and just in so 
far as these rights are disregarded by a man is 
that man a tyrant. 

Hence even the brute may not be regarded 
or treated as a mere thing or a tree. He can be 
owned and treated no otherwise than as a 
brute. The horse, for example, may not be 
left, like a tree, without food and care; but he 
may be saddled and rode as a horse ; or he may 


be liitched to the plough, and compelled to do 
his master's work. 

In like manner, a man cannot be owned or 
treated as a horse. He cannot be saddled or 
rode, nor hitched to the plough and be made to 
do the work of a horse. On the contrary, he 
should be treated as a man, and required to 
perform only the work of a man. The right to 
such work is all the ownership which any one 
man can rightfully have in another ; and this is 
all which any slaveholder of the South needs to 

The real question is, Can one man have a right 
to the personal service or obedience of another 
without his consent P We dcf not intend to let 
the abolitionist throw dust in our eyes, and 
shout victory amid a clamor of words. We 
intend to hold him to the point. Whether he be 
a learned divine, or a distinguished senator, we 
intend he shall speak to the point, or else his 
argument shall be judged, not according to the 
eloquent noise it makes or the excitement it 
produces, but according to the sense it contains. 

Can a man, then, have a right to the labor or 
obedience of another without his consents Grive 
us this right, and it is all we ask. We lay 
no claim to the soul of the slave. We grant 



to the abolitionist, even more freely than he 
can assert, that the "soul of the slave is his 
own." Or, rather, we grant that his soul 
belongs exclusively to the God who gave it. 
The master may use him not as a tree or a 
brute, but only as a rational, accountable, and 
immortal being may be used. He may not 
command him to do any thing which is wrong ; 
and if he should so far forget himself as to re- 
quire such service of his slave, he would himself 
be guilty of the act. If he should require his 
slave to violate any law of the land, he would 
be held not as a particeps criminis merely, but as 
a criminal in the first degree. In like manner, 
if he should require him to violate the law of 
God, he would be guilty — far more guilty than 
the slave himself — in the sight of heaven. 
These are truths w^hich are just as well under- 
stood at the South as they are at the I^orth. 

The master, we repeat, lays no claim to the 
soul of the slave. He demands no spiritual 
service of him, he exacts no divine honors. 
With his own soul he is fully permitted to 
serve his own God. With this soul he may 
follow the solemn injunction of the Most High, 
"Servants, obey your masters;" or he may 
listen to the voice of the tempter, " Servants, 


fly from your masters." Those only who in- 
stigate him to violate the law of God, whether 
at the Forth or at the South, are the men who 
seek to deprive him of his rights and to exercise 
an infamous dominion over his soul. 

Since, then, the master claims only a right to 
the labor and lawful obedience of the slave, and 
no right whatever to his soul, it follows that the 
argument, which Dr. Channing regards as the 
strongest of his seven, has no real foundation. 
Since the master claims to have no property in 
the " rational, moral, and immortal" part of his 
being, so all the arguments, or rather all the 
empty declamation, based on the false supposi- 
tion of such claim, falls to the ground. So the 
passionate appeals, proceeding qn the supposi- 
tion of such a monstrous claim, and addressed 
to the religious sensibilities of the multitude, 
are only calculated to deceive and mislead their 
judgment. It is a mere thing of words ; and, 
though "full of sound and fury," it signifies 
nothing. "The traffic in human souls," which 
figures so largely in the speeches of the divines 
and demagogues, and which so fiercely stirs up 
the most unhallowed passions of their hearers, 
is merely the transfer of a right to labor. 

Does any one doubt whether such a right may 


exist ? The master certainly has a right to the 
labor of his apprentice for a specified period of 
time, though he has no right to his soul even 
for a moment. The father, too, has a right to 
the personal service and obedience of his child 
until he reach the age of twenty-one ; but no 
one ever supposed that he owned the soul of his 
child, or might sell it, if he pleased, to another. 
Though he may not sell the soul of his child, it 
is universally admitted that he may, for good 
and sufficient reasons, transfer his right to the 
labor and obedience of his child. Why, then, 
should it be thought impossible that such a 
right to service may exist for life? If it may 
exist for one period, why not for a longer, and 
even for life ? If the good of both parties and 
the good of the whole community require such a 
relation and such a right to exist, why should it 
be deemed so unjust, so iniquitous, so mon- 
strous? This whole controversy turns, we re- 
peat, not upon any consideration of abstract 
rights, but solely upon the highest good of all — 
upon the highest good of the slave as well as 
upon that of the community. 

"It is plain," says Dr. Channing, in his first 
argument, "that if any one man may be held 
as propei-ty, then any other man may be so held." 


This sophism has been already sufficiently re- 
futed. It proceeds on the supposition that if 
one man, however incapable of self-government, 
may be placed under the control of another, 
then all men may be placed under the control 
of others ! It proceeds on the idea that all men 
should be placed in precisely the same condition, 
subjected to precisely the same authority, and 
required to perform precisely the same kind of 
labor. In one word, it sees no difference and 
makes no distinction between a ^N'egro and a 
jN'ewton. But as an overstrained and false idea 
of equality lies at the foundation of this argu- 
ment, so it will pass under review again, when 
we come to consider the great demonstration 
which the abolitionist is accustomed to deduce 
from the axiom that "all men are created equal." 

The third argument of Dr. Chauning is, like 
the first, " founded on the essential equality of 
men." Hence, like the first, it may be post- 
poned until we come to consider the true mean- 
ing and the real political significancy of the 
natural equality of all men. We shall barely 
remark, in passing, that two arguments cannot 
be made out of one by merely changing the 
mode of expression. 

The second argument of the author is as fol 


lows: "A man cannot be seized and held as 
property, because he has rights. ... A being 
having rights cannot justly be made property, 
for this claim over him virtually annuls all Ms 
rights.'' This argument, it is obvious, is based 
on the arbitrary idea which the author has been 
pleased to attach to the term property. If it 
proves any thing, it would prove that a horse 
could not be held as property, for a horse cer- 
tainly has rights. But, as we have seen, a 
limited property, or a right to the labor of a 
man, does not deny or annul all his rights, nor 
necessarily any one of them. This argument 
needs no fm'ther refutation. For we acknow- 
ledge that the slave has rights ; and the limited 
or qualified property which the master claims in 
him, extending merely to his personal human 
labor and his lawful obedience, touches not one 
of these rights. 

The fourth argument of Dr. Channing is iden- 
tical with the second. " That a human being," 
says he, " cannot be justly held as property, is 
apparent from the very nature of property. Pro- 
perty is an exclusive right. It shuts out all 
claim but that of the possessor. What one 
man owns cannot belong to another." The 
only difference between the two arguments is 


this: in one the ''nature 0/ property" is said "to 
annul all rights;" and in the other it is said 
"to exclude all rights!" Both are based on the 
same idea of property, and both arrive at the 
same conclusion, with only a very slight difier- 
ence in the mode of expression ! 

And both are equally unsound. True; "what 
one man owns cannot belong to another." Bu^ 
may not one man have a right to the labor of 
another, as a father to the labor of his son, 
or a master to the labor of his apprentice ; and 
yet that other a right to food and raiment, as 
well as to other things ? May not one man 
have a right to the service of another, without 
annulling or excluding all the rights of that 
other? This argument proceeds, it is evident, 
on the false supposition that if any being be 
held as property, then he has no rights; a 
supposition which, if true, would exclude and 
annul the right of property in every living 

Dr. Channing's fifth argument is deduced from 
" the universal indignation excited toward a man 
who makes another his slave." "Our laws," 
says he, "know no higher crime than that of 
reducing a man to slavery. To steal or to buy 
an African on his own shores is piracy." "To 


steal a man," we reply, is one thing; and, by 
the authority of the law of the land, to require 
him to do certain labor, is, one would think, 
quite another. The first may be as high a crime 
as any known to our laws ; the last is recognised 
by our laws themselves. Is it not wonderful 
that Dr. Channing could not see so plain a dis- 
tinction, so broad and so glaring a difference? 
The father of his country held slaves; he did 
not commit the crim^ of man-stealing. 

The sixth argument of Dr. Channing, "against 
the right of property in man," is "drawn from 
a very obvious principle of moral science. It 
is a plain truth, universally received, that every 
right supposes or involves a corresponding obli- 
gation. K, then, a man has a right to another's 
person or powers, the latter is under obligation 
to give himself up as a chattel to the former." 
Most assuredly, if one man has a right to the 
service or obedience of another, then that other 
is under obligation to render that service or 
obedience to him. But is such an obligation 
absurd? Is it inconsistent with the inherent, 
the inalienable, the universal rights of man 
that the "servant should obey his master?" If 
so, then we fear the rights of man were far 
better understood by Dr. Channing than by the 


Creator of the world and the Author of reve- 

Such are the seven arguments adduced bj Dr. 
Channing to show that no man can rightfully 
hold property in his fellow-man. But before 
we quit this branch of the subject, we shall 
advert to a passage in the address of the Hon. 
Charles Sumner, before the people of J^ew York, 
at the Metropolitan Theatre, May 9, 1855. 
"I desire to present this argument," says he, 
*'on grounds above all controversy, impeach- 
ment, or suspicion, even from slave-masters 
themselves. Not on triumphant story, not even 
on indisputable facts, do I now accuse slavery, 
but on its character, as revealed in its own 
simple definition of itself. Out of its own 
mouth do I condemn it." Well, and why does 
he condemn it ? Because, "by the law of slavery, 
man, created in the image of God, is divested of 
Ms human character and declared to be a mere 
chattel. That the statement may not seem to 
be put forward without precise authority, I quote 
the law of two different slave States." That is 
the accusation. It is to be proved by the law 
(6f slavery itself. It is to be proved beyond 
r^all controversy," by an appeal to "indisputable 
tfacts." K'ow let us have the facts: here they 

G 9 


are. "The law of another polished slave State," 
says Mr. Sumner, '^ gives this definition : ' Slaves 
shall be delivered, sold, taken, reputed, and ad- 
judged in law to be chattels personal, in the 
hands of their owners and possessors, and their 
executors, administrators, and assignees, to all 
intents, constructions, and purposes whatsoever.' " 

^N'ow, mark; the learned Senator undertook 
to prove, beyond all doubt and controversy, that 
slavery divests the slave of Ms human character^ 
and declares him to be a mere chattel. But he 
m.erely proves that it declares him to be a 
"chattel personal." He merely proves that the 
law of a Southern State regards the slave, not as 
real estate or landed property, but as a " chattel 
personal." Does this divest him of his human 
character ? does this make him a mere chattel ? 
May the slave, in consequence of such law, be 
treated as a brute or a tree ? May he be cut 
in pieces or worked to death at the will and 
pleasure of the master ? 

"We think that a learned Senator, especially 
when he undertakes to demonstrate, should 
distinguish between declaring a man to be 
"a chattel personal," and a mere chattel, l^o 
one doubts that a man is a thing; but is he 
therefore a mere thins:, or nothing more than 


a tiling? Ill like manner, no one doubts that 
a man is an animal; does it follow, therefore, 
that he is a mere animal, or nothing but an 
animal? It is clear, that to declare a man 
may be held as a '' chattel personal," is a very 
different thing from declaring that he is a mere 
chattel. So much for his honor's "precise 

In what part of the law, then, is the slave 
"divested of his human character?" In no 
part whatever. If it had declared him to be 
a mere thing, or a mere chattel, or a mere ani- 
mal, it would have denied his human character, 
we admit; but the law in question has done 
no such thing. ]N'or is any such declaration 
contained in the other law quoted by the learned 
Senator from the code of Louisiana. It is 
merely by the interpolation of this little word 
mere, that * the Senator of Massachusetts has 
made the law of South Carolina divest an im- 
mortal being of his "human character." He 
is welcome to all the applause which this may 
have gained for him in the "Metropolitan 

The learned Senator adduces another au- 
thority. "A careful writer," says he, "Judge 
Stroud, in a work of juridical as well as phi- 


lanthropic merit, thus sums up the law: ^The 
cardinal principle of slavery — that the slave is 
not to be ranked among sentient^ beings, but 
among things — as an article of property — a 
chattel personal — obtains as undoubted law in 
all these (the slave) States.' '* We thus learn 
from this very "careful writer" that slaves 
among us are "not ranked among sentient be- 
ings," and that this is "the cardinal principle 
of slavery." [N'o, they are not fed, nor clothed, 
nor treated as sentient beings ! They are left 
without food and raiment, just as if they were 
stocks and stones ! They are not talked to, 
nor reasoned with, as if they were rational ani- 
mals, but only driven about, like dumb biTites 
beneath the lash ! No, no, not the lash, for 
that would recognise them as "sentient be- 
ings !" They are only thrown about like stones, 
or boxed up like chattels; they are not set, 
like men, over the lower animals, required to 
do the work of men ; the precise work which, 
of all others, in the grand and diversified 
economy of human industry, they are the best 
qualified to perform ! So far, indeed, is this 
from being " the cardinal principle of slavery," 

* The Italics are his own. 


that it is no principle of slavery at all. It 
bears not the most distant likeness or approxi- 
mation to any principle of slavery, with which 
we of the South have any the most remote 

That man may, in certain cases, be held as 
property, is a truth recognised by a higher 
authority than that of senators and divines. 
It is, as we have seen, recognised by the word 
of God himself. In that word, the slave is 
called the "possession"* of the master, and 
even "his money."t ^ow, is not this lan- 
guage as strong, if not stronger, than that ad- 
duced from tbe code of South Carolina? It 
certainly calls "the bondman" his master's 
"money." Why, then, did not the Senator 
from Massachusetts denounce this language, as 
divesting "a man of his human character," and 
declaring him to be mere money? Wliy did 
he not proceed to condemn the legislation of 
Heaven, as well as of the South, out of its 
own mouth? Most assuredly, if his princijDles 
be correct, then is he bound to pronounce the 
law of God itself manifestly unjust and iniqui- 
tous. For that law as clearly recognises the 

* Lev. chap. xxv. f Exod. chap. xxi. 




right of property in man as it could possibly 
be recognised in words. But it nowhere com- 
mits the flagrant solecism of supposing that 
this right of the master annuls or excludes all 
the rights of the slave. On the contrary, the 
rights of the slave are recognised, as well as 
those of the master. For, according to the law 
of God, though *' a possession," and an " in- 
heritance," and '' a bondman forever," yet is 
the slave, nevertheless, a man; and, as a man, 
is he protected in his rights; in his rights, not 
as defined by abolitionists, but as recognised 
by the word of God. 

§ XT. The seventeenth fallacy of the aboli- 
tionist; or the argument from the Declaration 
of Independence. 

This argument is regarded by the abolition- 
ists as one of their great strongholds; and no 
doubt it is so in effect, for who can bear a 
superior? Lucifer himself, who fell from hea- 
ven because he could not acknowledge a 
superior, seduced our first parents by the sug- 
gestion that in throwing off the yoke of sub- 
jection, they should become "as gods." We 
need not wonder, then, if it should be found, 
that an appeal to the absolute equality of all 


men is the most ready way to effect the ruin 
of States. We can surely conceive of none 
better adapted to subvert all order among us 
of the South, involving the two races in a ser- 
vile war, and the one or the other in utter 
extinction. Hence we shall examine this ar^u- 
ment from the equality of all men, or rather 
this appeal to all men's abhorrence of infe- 
riority. This appeal is usually based on the 
Declaration of Independence : " We hold these 
truths to be self-evident: that all men are cre- 
ated equal; that they are endowed by their 
Creator with certain inalienable rights; that 
among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit 
of happiness." We do not mean to play upon 
these words; we intend to take them exactly 
as they are understood by our opponents. As 
they are not found in a metaphysical document 
or discussion, so it would be unfair to sup- 
pose — as is sometimes done — that they incul- 
cate the wild dream of Helvetius, that all men 
are created with equal natural capacities of 
mind. They occur in a declaration of inde- 
pendence; and as the subject is the doctrine 
of human rights, so we suppose they mean to 
declare that all men are created equal with 
respect to natural rights. 


Nor do we assert that there is no truth in this 
celebrated proposition or maxim; for we be- 
lieve that, if rightly understood, it contains 
most important and precious truth. It is not 
on this account, however, the less dangerous as 
a maxim of political philosophy. Nay, false- 
hood is only then the more dangerous, when 
it is so blended with truth that its existence is 
not suspected by its victims. Hence the un- 
speakable importance of dissecting this pre- 
tended maxim, and separating the precious 
truth it contains from the pernicious falsehood 
by which its followers are deceived. Its truth 
is certainly very far from being self-evident, or 
rather its truth is self-evident to some, while 
its falsehood is equally self-evident to others, 
according to the side from which it is viewed. 
We shall endeavor to throw some light both 
upon its truth and its falsehood, and, if possi- 
ble, draw the line which divides them from 
each other. 

This maxim does not mean, then, that all 
men have, by nature, an equal right to politi- 
cal power or to posts of honor. No doubt 
the words are often understood in this sense 
by those who, without reflection, merely echo 
the Declaration of Independence; but, in this 


sense, they are utterly untenable. K all men 
had, by nature, an equal right to any of the 
offices of government, how could such rights 
be adjusted? How could such a conflict be 
reconciled? It is clear that all men could not 
be President of the United States; and if all 
men had an equal natural right to that office, 
no one man could be elevated to it without a 
wrong to all the rest. In such case, all men 
should have, at least, an equal chance to oc- 
cupy the presidential chair. Such equal chance 
could not result from the right of all men to 
oflTer themselves as candidates for the office; 
for, at the bar of public opinion, vast multi- 
tudes would not have the least shadow of a 
chance. The only way to effect such an object 
would be by resorting to the lot. We might 
thus determine who, among so many equally 
just claimants, should actually possess the power 
of the supreme magistrate. This, it must be 
confessed, would be to recognise in deed, as 
well as in word, the equal rights of all men. 
But what more absurd than such an equality of 
rights? It is not without example in history; 
but it is to be hoped that such example will 
never be copied. The democracy of Athens, 
it is well known, was, at one time, so far car 


lied away by the idea of equal riglits, tliat her 
generals and orators and poets were elected by 
the lot. This was an equality, not in theory 
merely, but in practice. Though the lives and 
fortunes of mankind were thus intrusted to 
the most ignorant and depraved, or to the 
most wise and virtuous, as the lot might deter- 
mine, yet this policy was based on an equality 
of rights. It is scarcely necessary to add that 
this idea of equality prevailed, not in the better 
days of the Athenian democracy, but only 
during its imbecility and corruption. 

If all men, then, have not a natural right to 
fill an office of government, who has this right ? 
Who has the natui^al right, for example, to 
occupy the office of President of the United 
States? Certainly some men have no such 
right. The man, for example, who has no 
capacity to govern himself, but needs a guar- 
dian, has no right to superintend the affiiirs 
of a great nation. Though a citizen, he has no 
more right to exercise such power or authority 
than if he were a Hottentot, or an African, or 
an ape. Hence, in bidding such a one to 
stand aside and keep aloof from such high 
office, no right is infringed and no injury done. 
N'ay, right is secured, and injuiy prevented. 


Wlio has such a riglit, tlien ? — such, natural 
right, or right accorcliiig to the law of nature or 
reason ? The man, we answer, who, all things 
considered, is the best qualified to discharge the 
duties of the office. The man who, by his 
superior wisdom, and virtue, and statesmanship, 
would use the power of such office more ef- 
fectually for the good of the whole people than 
would any other man. K there be one such 
man, and only one, he of natural right should be 
our President. And all the laws framed to 
regulate the election of President are, or should 
be, only so many means designed to secure the 
services of that man, if possible, and thereby 
secure the rights of all against the possession of 
power by the unworthy or the less worthy. This 
object, it is true, is not always attained, these 
means are not always successful; but this is 
only one of the manifold imperfections which 
necessarily attach to all human institutions ; one 
of the melancholy instances in which natural 
and legal right run in different channels. All 
that can be hoped, indeed, either in the con-- 
struction or in the administration of human 
laws, is an approximation, more or less close, 
to the great principles of natural justice. 

What is thus so clearly true in regard to the 


office of President, is equally true in regard to 
all the other offices of government. It is con- 
trary to reason, to natural right, to justice, that 
either fools, or knaves, or demagogues should 
occupy seats in Congress ; yet all of these classes 
are sometimes seen there, and by the law of the 
land are entitled to their seats. Here, again, 
that which is right and fit in itself is diffi^rent 
from that which exists under the law. 

The same remarks, it is evident, are appli- 
cable to governors, to judges, to sheriffs, to con- 
stables, and to justices of the peace. In eveiy 
instance, he who is best qualified to discharge 
the duties of an office, and who would do so 
with greatest advantage to all concerned, has 
the natural right thereto. And no man who 
would fill any office, or exercise any power so as 
to injure the community, has any right to such 
office or power. 

There is precisely the same limitation to the 
exercise of the elective' franchise. Those only 
should be permitted to exercise this power who 
are qualified to do so with advantage to the 
community ; and all laws which regulate or limit 
the possession of this power should have in 
view, not the equal rights of all men, but solely 
and exclusively the public good. It is on this 


principle that foreigners are not allowed to vote 
as soon as they land upon our shores, and that 
native Americans can do so only after they have 
reached a certain age. And if the public good 
required that any class of men, such as free 
blacks or slaves, for example, should be ex- 
cluded from the privilege altogether, then no 
doubt can remain the law excluding them 
would be just. It might not be equal, but 
would be just. Indeed, in the high and holy 
sense of the word, it would be equal ; for, if it 
excluded some from a privilege or power which 
it conferred upon others, this is because they 
were not included within the condition on 
which alone it should be extended to any. 
Such is not an equality of rights and power, it 
is true; but it is an equality of justice, like 
that which reigns in the divine government 
itself. In the light of that justice, it is clear 
that no man, and no class of men, can have a 
natural right to exercise a power which, if in- 
trusted to them, would be wielded for harm, 
and not for good. 

This great truth, when stripped of the mani- 
fold sophistications of a false logic, is so clear 
and unquestionable, that it has not failed to 
secure the approbation of abolitionists them- 



selves. Thus, after all his wild extravagancies 
about inherent, inalienable, and equal rights, 
Dr. Channing has, in one of his calmer moods, 
recognised this great fundamental truth. " The 
slave," says he, "cannot rightfully, and should 
not, be owned by the individual. But, like 
every citizen, he is subject to the community, and 


DEMANDS." ']^ow this is all we ask in regard to 
the question of equal rights. All we ask is, that 
each and every individual may be in such wise 
and so far restrained as the public good de- 
mands and no farther. All we ask is, as may 
be seen from the first chapter of this Essay, that 
the right of the individual, whether real or 
imaginary, may be held in subjection to the 
undoubted right of the community to protect 
itself and to secure its own highest good. This 
solemn right, so inseparably linked to a sacred 
duty, is paramount to the rights and powers of 
the individual. l!^ay, as we have already seen,* 
the individual can have no right that conflicts 
with this ; because it is his duty to co-operate in 

* In the first chapter. 


the establishment of the general, good. Surely 
he can have no right which is adverse to duty. 
Indeed, if for the general good, he would not 
cheerfully lay down both liberty and life, then 
both may be rightfully taken from him. We 
have, it is true, inherent and inalienable rights, 
but among these is neither liberty nor life. For 
these, upon our country's altar, may be sacri- 
ficed ; but conscience, truth, honor may not be 
touched by man. 

Has the community, then, after all, the right 
to compel "a man," a "rational and immortal 
being," to work? Let Dr. Channing answer: 
" If he (the slave) cannot be induced to work by 
rational and natural motives, he should he obliged 
to labor, on the same principle on which the 
vagrant in other communities is confined and com- 
pelled' to earn his bread.'" IsTow, if a man be 
" confined, and compelled" to work in his con- 
finement, what becomes of his "inalienable 
right to liberty?" We think there must be a 
slight mistake somewhere. Perhaps it is in the 
Declaration of Independence itself ^ay, is it 
not evident, indeed, that if all men have an in- 
alienable right to liberty," then is this sacred 
right trampled in the dust by every government 
on earth ? Is it not as really disregarded by the 


enlightened Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 
which "confines and compels" vagrants to earn 
their bread, as it is by the Legislature of Vir- 
ginia, which has taken the wise precaution to 
prevent the rise of a swarm of vagrants more 
destructive than the locusts of Eg}^t? The 
plain truth is, that although this notion of the 
*' inalienable right" of all to liberty may sound 
very well in a declaration of independence, and 
may be most admirably adapted to stir up the 
passions of men and produce fatal commotions 
in a commonwealth, yet no wise nation ever has 
been or ever will be guided by it in the con- 
struction of her laws. It may be a brand of dis- 
cord in the hands of the abolitionist and the 
demao-offue. It will never be an element of 
light, or power, or wisdom, in the bosom of the 

"The gift of liberty," continues Dr. Chan- 
ning, "would be a mere name, and worse than 
nominal, were he (the slave) to be let loose 
on society under circumstances dri\dng him to 
commit crimes, for which he would be con- 
demned to severer bondage than he had es- 
caped." If then, after all, liberty may be worse 
than a mere name, is it not a pity that all men 
sliould have an "inalienable right" to it? If 


it may be a curse, is it not a pity that all men 
should be required to embrace it, and to be 
even ready to die for it, as an invaluable 
blessing? We trust that "no man," that "no 
rational and immortal being," will ever be so 
ungrateful as to complain of those who have 
withheld from him that which is "worse than 
nominal," and a curse. For if such, and such 
only, be his inalienable birthright, were it not 
most wisely exchanged for a mess of potage ? 
The vagrant, then, should not be consulted 
whether he will work or not. He should be 
"confined and compelled" to work, says Dr. 
Channing. ^or should the idle and the vicious, 
those who cannot be induced to work by 
rational motives, be asked whether they will 
remain pests to society, or whether they will 
eat their bread in the sweat of their brow. 
"For they, too," says Dr. Channing, "should be 
compelled to work." But how? "The slave 
should not have an owner," says Dr. Channing, 
"but he should have a guardian. He needs 
authority, to supply the lack of that discretion 
which he has not yet attained; but it should 
be the authority of a friend, an official author- 
ity, conferred by the State, and for which there 
should be responsibility to the State." JSTow, 

H lU* 


if all this be true, is not the doctrine of equal 
rights, as held by Dr, Channing, a mere dream? 
If one man may have "a guardian," ^^an offi- 
cial authority," appointed by the State, to com-* 
pel him to work, why may not another be 
placed under the same authority, and subjected 
to the same servitude? Are not all equal? 
Have not all men an equal right to liberty 
and to a choice of the pursuits of happiness ? 
Let these question